Monday, October 31, 2011

Occupy Oakland Prepares For General Strike, Aims To Shut Down Port

OAKLAND | Oct. 31, 2011 | Organizers for the Occupy Oakland movement announced specifics on the group's ambitious general strike scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 2.

In addition to cultural events at Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of Oakland City Hall starting at 9 a.m., a slew of marches and protests is planned. The entire day of protest will culminate in a march to the Port of Oakland, starting at 5 p.m.

Protesters hope to hit corporations squarely in the pocket book by bringing the port's operations to a standstill before the 7 p.m. night shift begins, organizers said.

"This is a warning shot at the one percent," said Oakland activist and recording artist Boots Riley. The march could attract thousands or even "tens of thousands," said Riley, who also hopes "police will not stop democracy."

The reason for the general strike is simple, protesters say. "We know the wealth of the 1 percent is from the work of the 99 percent," said a union leader.

The Port of Oakland is one of the largest shipping destinations on the West Coast.

A Oakland homeowner and protester described her current mortgage troubles with Chase Bank during a press conference in Latham Square this evening. "I need my house more than they need one more," she said.

Occupy Oakland also warned schools and employers not hinder the ability of students and workers to participate in the general strike, the first in the city since 1946, or risk being "occupied" by protesters.

PROLOGUE: Amid Budget Cuts, San Leandro Officials Spent Money On Other Things

Oct. 31, 2011 | The biggest police scandal in San Leandro history began simply with a group of names scribbled on a white board situated on the third floor of the city's police station. It featured the order of promotion for sergeants in the upcoming year. Weeks earlier, prospective officers hoping to become sergeant navigated a battery of oral and written tests. Some were delighted with the results. Some were disappointed. Some were outright pissed. This was 2007 and in the next four years this story of police corruption, political ineptitude and gross entitlement fell well below the radar of residents and became much more than a dispute over workplace politics, but a catalyst for unparalleled instability in San Leandro likely to change the face and reputation of the city for years to come.

Until today, San Leandrans know little about the vast amount of taxpayer dollars that went in to litigating this wide-ranging beast of a scandal. Most in the mid-sized Oakland suburb are likely to recall during this period a wave of constant cries by politicians for city-wide austerity. Young children were asked to forego a summer of frolic in one of the city’s popular public swimming pools because of proposed budget cuts. An anonymous donor eventually fronted the $30,000 to keep the facility open. In the past two years the same financial construct was used to cuts crossing guards from the city’s schools. The cash-strapped city said they couldn’t foot its share of the $100,000 bill, but after consecutive years of angry threats from parents and residents, the city capitulated. Its annual Cherry Festival was also mothballed indefinitely. Nearly 20 percent of the city’s workforce was trimmed along with a bevy of services. By the end of the current union contracts with city employees, it will have been five years since workers have received a pay increase. It was amid this atmosphere of diminished revenues and belt-tightening rhetoric city leaders helped set in motion a scandal eventually costing $1 million in settlement payouts alone and millions more in legal fees. When it was all over, it would include the enrichment of the two police officers of which an investigator hired by the city concluded from the get-go included ginned up sexual harassment claims by six San Leandro female police officers against another officer, who is black.

Like many scandals which grow so large they begin to create their own destructive orbit, this one would eventually go a long way in devouring the city’s entire leadership. In a period spanning 14 months, ending last December, San Leandro replaced its last two police chiefs, its city manager (of which, after nearly a year, has not been replaced) and through various political calculations, inadvertently upended the incumbent mayor. The fate of the city attorney could also be up in the air from issues borne of this scandal. And in the parlance of law enforcement, the host of characters aligned with inflicting so much damage on San Leandro, almost got away with it, until the one person who bore the brunt of the scandal decided to speak out.

Read the cover story featuring former San Leandro police officer Dewayne Stancill starting this Wednesday, Nov. 2, in the next issue of the East Bay Express and follow the story on the EastBayCitizen at EBCitizen.com.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hayashi Charged With Shoplifting $2,450 In Clothing From Upscale Department Store

Oct. 28, 2011 | Castro Valley's two-term Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi was charged Thursday with felony grand theft for allegedly stealing $2,450 in clothing from a San Francisco Neiman Marcus, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The irascible Hayashi was arraigned yesterday in San Francisco Superior Court, according to the Chronicle's Matier & Ross. She posted $15,000 bail earlier in the day, the report added.

News of Hayashi's arrest bombshell exploded across the East Bay political scene seemingly within minutes of the posting this afternoon on SFGate. No local officials were willing to speak on the matter this early in the news cycle, but all expressed shocking disbelief.

"I almost can't believe it," said one local political observer who declined to be identified. "Give me awhile to sort it all out."

According to the article, Hayashi was seen on surveillance cameras last Tuesday afternoon allegedly shoplifting a pair of leather pants and two tops from the up-scale department store near Union Square. She was confronted shortly after paying for other items, the report said.

Hayashi's political reputation is surely in the balance after the incident. Many East Bay politicos have pondered her next political move after she is termed-out of the assembly in 2012. Most agree Hayashi was destined to run for rival Ellen Corbett's termed-out seat in the state senate, but that spot is not open until 2014, leaving her in the political wilderness for two years.

Starting today, her political future is now very much in doubt.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

San Leandro Businessman Gets Beat Down From Alameda County Sheriffs--VIDEO

Sweeney Turning Up The Hayward Heat On Corbett

HAYWARD | Oct. 27, 2011 | Talking trash when the other person isn't in the room is one thing, but taking shots right in front of the person is laudable, but also downright gangsta.

This is what Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney said last week at a fundraiser for assembly candidate and Councilman Bill Quirk: "One of the things that happen to people when they go to Sacramento is that they sometimes forget where they came from and sometimes they throw Hayward under the bus."

Quirk, won't be one of those politicians, the gentile, but sometimes sharp-witted Sweeney told the large gathering in Downtown Hayward.  "So, I'm going to support Bill because he's going to standup for Hayward," he added.

The statement appeared to be a ringing endorsement for Quirk, but more poignantly, it was a stunning public dressing down and backhanded slight directed at someone else in the room--State Majority Leader Ellen Corbett.

"When the chips are down and the speaker is going to call you into the office, you know what we want you to vote this way and if you don't vote this way, you may lose your committee assignments, your office or this or that somebody needs to stand up for Hayward."


As Sweeney unleashed the barely disguised rejoinders in Corbett's direction, the long-time representative of the area, turned her back to the stage and instead attempted to spark up conversations at the bar at the back of the room. Corbett later said she wasn't listening to Sweeney's remarks. Sweeney said his comments were not specifically directed at Corbett or the city's other representative Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, but is part of his responsibility as an elected official to voice the city's concerns with legislators.

Nevertheless, Sweeney has been breathing fire at Sacramento's addiction to fixing its budget woes on the backs of local government. A city council meetings does not go by without some type of comments directed at the Legislature and specifically Corbett and Hayashi. During a recent discussion over the possibility of further cutting city services, Sweeney blamed Corbett and Hayashi for their role asked viewers of the city's cable access channel to complain to their offices. "He's not going to let up on Ellen," said Councilman Marvin Peixoto. Others including Hayward Councilwoman Barbara Halliday and City Manager Fran David have also had partcularly harsh words for Sacramento.

"Those of us who work at the local level are tired of the state of California always taking from the local level for balancing their budget and, of course, it's never balanced," Sweeney said last week. "The state needs to solve their problem with their resources and take care of their issues and let local government have the resources we had and should have to provide services to our citizens."

Sweeney's trash talk is not just public posturing. He says the he and other officials have voiced their considerable concern in closed doors. "As a council, individually and collectively, we have made our positions known to both Mary and Ellen many times over on these issues," he said.

"We've heard things like, 'Oh, we can't believe the bill would really do that' and then we show them the bill and it sure does that. There's been a certain disingenuoisness in the responses we frequently get and public needs to know what is really going on."

What? You going to take that, Ellen?

Corbett denies leaving Hayward or any of her other constituents in the lurch. "I keep my ear to the ground and listen and I do my job in Sacramento based on that," she said, but also returned Sweeney serve with a blistering forehand shot.

"If I take a vote because I think education should get funded. I take a vote for education to be funded. I guess he doesn't care about education," Corbett said of Sweeney. "That's all I have to say."

Hayward's two-term mayor has quite a bit of credibility in criticizing Sacramento and its legislators. Sweeney was a former state senator and assemblyman, himself, over a decade ago. He recalls once working on a bipartisan budget amendment attempting to reinstate property tax revenues to local coffers only to be summoned before the party leadership.

"I got called into the speaker's office and said I will not do this and blah, blah, blah. I went forward with it and you know, I came out of it with all my fingers and toes," Sweeney said. "At the end of the day, you want people up there willing to stand up for us even if it means things get uncomfortable."

(Sweeney drops the mic, cooly exits the room.)

MoveOn.org Adds To Growing National Attention On Oakland

Oct. 27, 2011 | First, there was a sanctimonious special comment from Keith Olbermann (VIDEO) calling for Oakland Mayor Jean Quan to resign after police quelled Occupy Oakland protesters with tear gas. Jon Stewart then added his humorous take along with talking trash about the Oakland A's (VIDEO). The national attention is on Oakland. Where the f**k is Jesse Jackson, Jane Fonda and this media-starved guy from Jimmy Kimmel?

Today, MoveOn.org got in on the action after releasing an ad to run in the Bay Area over the next few days. The minute-long spot harshly focuses on Quan's response to the protesters last Tuesday night.

Important Next Few Weeks For Future of A's In San Jose

Oct. 27, 2011 | The EastBayCitizen's partner in all things at the nexus of redevelopment and sports has more details on San Jose's $6.9 million sweetheart land offer to the Oakland Athletics for construction of a ballpark in the city's Diridon district. According to newballpark.org, the next couple of weeks will be important for the future of the site as a ballpark and the future of A's baseball in the Bay Area. Among the dates:
  • Nov. 8: San Jose City Council votes on land deal
  • Nov. 10: Oral arguments begin on redevelopment court case in San Francisco
  • Nov. 15: Territorial rights may be taken up on the owners meetings agenda (not guaranteed.)
Read the entire article here at Newballpark.org.

Bay Area News Group Papers Vow More Local News; Discontinues Home-Delivery

Oct. 27, 2011 | The editor of the Bay Area News Group chain of local papers said today, "The world is changing rapidly and we are going to have to change with it. It's a whole new electronic world."

If you want to know why the disastrous collapse of local journalism has been greatly hastened by mismanagement at these once vibrant broadsheets, look no further to the date of this posting and the comments made by David Butler, its editor.

This isn't 2001. It's 2011 and the entire newspaper media business has long ago identified the "changing world" reason for the decline of print along with the resurgence led by new media.

Sure, there is happy news in some local East Bay locales about news announced today that the Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times and Hayward Daily Review will retain their mastheads, but so what? Instead, what they will lose is the time-honored tradition of receiving the morning news on their doorstep. If you believe BANG is suddenly moving quickly into the great, get electronic media void with two feet, then getting rid of the anachronism of home delivery is a no-brainer, but the real reason is simple: nobody cares about the product enough to pay for a subscription. The lack of distribution in Hayward was so shocking a year ago, that city staff began conversations about finding alternative ways of advertising and noticing the public. One former official told me, he believed subscriptions had fallen to a few thousand in the city of over 120,000 people.

Today's bluster is just another indication the thrifty MediaNews is merely trying to wring out the last few bits of revenue out of the BANG papers without improving its shockingly low quality. A council member in another East Bay city complained last week of the paucity of coverage not only of local issues, but any issues at all. Reading the Daily Review usually takes up about 10 minutes of the day, he said dismissively as he mimicked flipping through its pages.

The BANG papers say they will beef up local coverage, but that remains to be seen. In covering a host of city council meetings around the East Bay over the past six months, I rarely see a BANG reporter in the audience. I haven't seen one of their reporters at a council meeting in Hayward or San Leandro in over three months. It's not the reporter's fault, it's the chintzy newspapers they work for.

In their press releases today, BANG also added silly accouterments to heralding this "new" direction. For instance, they will create something called a "community media laboratory." These centers, according to the editors, will feature "computers, space for community meetings, blogging stations, Wi-Fi access as well as classes taught by the public and news staff, among many other offerings.

In a nutshell, BANG is providing the same amenities as your local library. And what, may I asked is a "blogging station"? Again, it's 2011! Who blogs in front of a computer? At a "station"? Nobody that I know and certainly not any self-respecting new media journalist who is not only gathering information for a story, but micro-blogging about it in real-time on Twitter.

What BANG doesn't get is their demise is not solely rooted in the changing face of technology or how customers consume news. It's all about quality journalism. I'm convinced people in the East Bay will joyfully read in-depth news even if its was printed on BPA water bottles or read on non-organic newsprint soaked with beef fat from an anti-biotic fueled cow. Stop talking about the delivery system and free your reporters to do their jobs. Get with it or get out.

UPDATE: Talk about burying the lede: BANG is reversing course on renaming its papers the East Bay Tribune and The Times. They did not change their minds, though, on significant layoffs and the closing of a printing plant in Walnut Creek. Initially, BANG announced 40 layoffs to staff. Now, they say 25 will be laid off, in addition to those who "voluntarily" resigned. The total before and after will likely be the same, nonetheless. Nice try.

Statement from Rep. Barbara Lee on OccupyOakland

Oct. 27, 2011 | Here's a statement released this morning from East Bay Rep. Barbara Lee on the response by law enforcement in Oakland Tuesday night against Occupy Oakland protesters, including the critically-injured Iraq war veteran, Scott Olsen, who was hit in the head with a projectile shot by police:

“I shared my outrage and grave concern about the police brutality in Oakland directly with the Mayor. My thoughts go out to the injured and especially Scott Olsen. I strongly support the occupy movement and continue to stand with the peaceful protesters in this struggle for economic justice and equality.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Medium Is The Message at #OccupyOakland

Oct. 26, 2011 | Understandably, many Americans wonder what to make of the continuing protests and sprawling encampments in many large American cities. "What do they want?" many say, as if they weren't actually part of the "they." It's a fair question for a society that wants quick results or, at least, a clear road map to an end. Occupy Wall Street and its imitators don't have a single document to pass out. They don't have clear plan and they don't need one. What they need to keep their robust populist movement chugging forward is a bit of poetic serendipity and they got it last night in all places: Downtown Oakland.

Progressives and supporters of the 99 percent should be imbued with enormous pride after last night's clash with police. A group of thousands miraculously navigated the waters of corporate media traps and in the process allowed the creation of dozens of shocking, poignant images and storylines. They did it without succumbing to the megamedia tropes generally highlighted when citizens rebel against the powers-that-be. No looting. No broken windows. No fights. It left the local news media with nothing to report but ominous police brutality against peaceful demonstrators.

"The medium is the message," said Marshall McLuhan many decades ago. The sage media theorist never imagined anything like Facebook, Twitter or even the World Wide Web, but he did see the medium in some ways was more important than the actually content.

Today, many Americans and millions more (formally) oppressed foreigners logged in to their favorite social media networks and saw photos and videos incongruent with the mythology of the American Dream. Images and symbolic acts can ignite revolutions. We saw it with the street cart owner in Tunisia whose act of self-immolation sparked an Arab Spring earlier this year.

What we saw last night was this: photos of a woman sitting helplessly in a wheel chair as tear gas engulfed her and those around her. We saw picture after picture of protesters flashing wounds from rubber bullets of which police denied ever firing (not to mention flash bang grenades popping on countless videos, police say never existed). We saw a defiant, shirtless young man beautifully framed in a cloud of white gas. He showed no fear and exhibited no urgency to flee the stinging burn of tear gas waiting to enter his lungs and eyes.

The medium is the message and in these instances as we view these unfiltered images our minds are sufficiently open. "Is this not America?" one woman tweeted last night as the event unfolded. Doubtless, the same notion crossed your own mind in between viewing your friend's sonogram on Facebook while watching X-Factor on your flat screen.

This amazing array of media images, though, pales in comparison to what seven rounds of tear gas in Oakland gave birth to last night. The story of Scott Olsen is destined to be all that lives from the confrontation and it just may foment an avalanche of enough anger and hypocrisy to maintain this movement toward tangible (still unknown) change in America.

In fact, Madison Avenue could not have created a better character than Olsen, who reports say survived two tours of duty in Iraq only to be critically wounded by projectiles fired by the police last night. According to The Guardian, the 24-year-old Olsen was struck in the head by a tear gas canister fired by Oakland Police. He was taken to nearby Highland Hospital late last night. The British paper reports Olsen is suffering from brain swelling as a result of the accident. Video showed Olsen crumbling to the ground during the chaotic scene. Protester surrounded his limp body until another round of tear gas was tossed near the group.

The storyline of an American serviceman returning home to be victimized by local law enforcement is similar to a viral video two weeks ago of an Marine Sgt. Shamar Thomas in New York City who lambasted police officers for harming peace demonstrators bleeding out from the Occupy Wall Street movement in Lower Manhattan.

That Oakland has become the flashpoint for this populist movement should come as no surprise. While the originators huddled for over a month on Wall Street are the Founding Fathers in general terms of the palpable anger with the equities in our society, Oakland is where the effects are seen in full view. Ninety-nine, as in "We are the 99 percent" is not the most important percentage in Oakland. It is 16 percent, as in the city's excruciatingly high unemployment rate. It's no wonder the protesters last night were undaunted by countless barrages of tear gas. They have nothing to lose anymore. If unemployment is 16 percent, then surely underemployment is closer to 25-30 percent.

If people have nothing and therefore have nothing to lose, then what? Just remember the belittled one percent have everything to lose and they will defend it. These protesters are buoyed by a clear realization that there are way more of us than there are of them. It's the reason billionaires live in mansion fortified by high walls and private security. They know this day would eventually come and with the bravery of those in Oakland, that time may be closer than we think.

Supe Miley In Pleasanton To Introduce Himself To Those Willing To Pay To Listen

Oct. 25, 2011 | Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley is making the rounds in Pleasanton like a grand dame at the debutante ball, but one Tri-Valley reporter took offense to a $45-per-person lunch address he is slated to give Wednesday at the Sheraton in Pleasanton.

The speech is billed as a sort of introduction to his new constituents in Pleasanton, who were recently shifted into Miley’s predominately Oakland-centric district. The luncheon is sponsored by the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce.

A reporter from Pleasanton Weekly, though, complained of the high ticket cost for an event possibly of great civic importance to the area’s residents. Miley is scheduled to lay out his vision for the county and Pleasanton in the address. The chamber said the media is welcome as long as they don’t saddle up to the buffet table.

Although, the speech is not Miley’s first appearance in Pleasanton since becoming their supervisor (he held a round table discussion two weeks ago at the city’s public library), but the local chambers securing exclusivity of public official’s time for a price is not uncommon.

Alice Lai-Bitker, a former county supervisor gave her final state of the county address last year for a price at a San Leandro Chamber of Commerce luncheon. There was no indication Lai-Bitker ever gave the same address at a free public event.

For local chamber of commerce’s to charge a fee featuring a public official offer his or her general thoughts on varied subjects is one thing, but trumpeting something of high public import like the “state of the county or state or a community’s introduction to a new public official is blatant pay-to-listen politics and should make you wonder whether these organizations value business leaders in spite of the customers they hope to entice.

UPDATE: Miley isn't the only local official participating in charging citizens a fee to hear the state of the communities. For $65 residents of Southern Alameda County can listen to Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett and Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski give the "state of the state" tomorrow afternoon. The event is sponsored by the Fremont, Milpitas and Union City Chambers of Commerce.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Corbett On Swalwell's Chances For Congress: Not A Chance

HAYWARD | Oct. 24, 2011 | A month ago, Rep. Pete Stark's response to a rare Democratic primary challenge from youthful Dublin Councilmember Eric Swalwell was pithy and dismissive. "I think I'll beat him handily," said the 79-year-old Stark.

The person viewed as most likely to inherit the much-sought congressional seat when and if Stark chooses to retire agrees with the prognostication.

"I don't think he has a chance of winning," said Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett. "I really don't."

Corbett says she knows nothing about Swalwell other than he lacks a track record in government.

Since announcing his candidacy last month after less than a year in elected politics, Swalwell has embarked a listening tour throughout the district at community gatherings and farmers' markets.

Many believe Corbett will run for Stark's seat in 2014 whether the 19-time congressman is in the race or not. At a fundraiser for Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk's campaign for assembly, Corbett told The Citizen she does not believe voters are looking for people in Washington lacking experience. She said congress already has legislators lacking qualifications for the job, which has led to institutional gridlock.

Corbett recently filed to open a political committee for a possible run for congress in 2014. In the meantime, Swalwell is the only known challenger to Stark in the June 2012 primary. Because of the new open primary system, where members of the same party could conceivably face each other in the general election, the two could grapple again next November.

Large Turnout for Quirk Assembly Kickoff Fundraiser in Hayward

HAYWARD | Oct. 23, 2011 | Political campaigns, usually cash-starved in the early goings, typically provide fundraising guests with a light menu of appetizers, a simple cold cuts platter from Costco and maybe a watered down cocktail. Bill Quirk's kickoff fundraiser for state assembly last week featured none of that. Instead, the two-term Hayward councilman served guests--over 100 of them--meaty portions of specific policy suggestions, he believes, will create new jobs in the state.

Quirk's speech last Thursday was notable for its lack of campaign platitudes and high-falutin generalities, but heavy on sometimes wonky specifics.

Quirk's platform for beginning to put Californians back to work includes increasing funding for education, simplifying the regulatory process for small businesses and a continued focus on green energy technology.

Quirk also pledged to support various temporary tax initiatives likely on the 2012 ballot. "None of my opponents have made that pledge," said Quirk.

"My primary goal in Sacramento will be to help Californians get work," said Quirk. One of the ways the state can stimulate job growth, Quirk said, is to streamline the permit process for new businesses, while still protecting consumers and the environment. Quirk highlighted a proposal floating about the State Senate containing a one-stop permit process. "This would be particularly important for small businesses that do not have the expertise to deal with the air board and the water board and many different agencies," he said.

Quirk is hoping his background as a scientist will entice voters interested in the environmental movement to listen closer. Although state law will require 30 percent of the state's energy is derived from renewable energy by 2020, "passing a law does not guarantee it will happen or that the energy will be affordable and reliable," he said. The state routinely pays neighboring Nevada to take excess wind energy generated at night, he added. "We need not only to have a goal of more renewable energy, we need to have an energy system that works."

"In order to integrate much more renewables into the energy production mix, we will need cheaper ways to store renewable energy when it is produced. We will need to provide market incentives for short and long term storage such as batteries and pumped hydro power," said Quirk. "Natural gas plants may be needed to supply energy during the highest demand days."

Working the clean energy constituency in the 20th District, though, is a slippery slope for Quirk after he backed approval for the controversial Russell City Energy Center on the Hayward Shoreline. Environmentalists and nearby Chabot College have vociferously opposed the natural gas-fired plant currently under construction. Quirk received $1,000 this year from Calpine, the owner of the new power plant, according to campaign fundraising reports.

Quirk's support among local political heavyweights was also on display. In attendance was Fremont Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski and State Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, who said she is offering her support for Quirk's candidacy, but not endorsing him at this time.

"Bill Quirk is an answer to our prayers," said Union City Councilman Richard Valle, who said Quirk's political style will help loossen the "molasses' currently in the Legislature. Fremont Councilman Domonic Dutra and a contigent of Quirk's colleagues on the council, including Francisco Zermeno, Marvin Peixoto and Mayor Michael Sweeney also heralded their support.

Optometrist Dr. Jennifer Ong is also a candidate for the redrawn 20th Assembly District covering Hayward to parts of Fremont. Union City Mayor Mark Green has filed papers for the same seat, although as of the end of August, no fundraising was reported to the state secretary of state's office.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Oral Arguments in Appeal of San Leandro Hospital Lawsuit Begin Nov. 2

Oct. 21, 2011 | The U.S. District Court of Appeals will begin oral arguments next month in the Eden Township Healthcare District's dispute with Sutter Health over title to the beleaguered San Leandro Hospital.

The hearings begin Nov. 2, 9 a.m. at the Earl Warren Building and Courthouse in San Francisco.

The often nasty two-year legal dispute between the Eden Township Healtcare District and Sacramento-based Sutter Health appears to be nearing the beginning of the end.

At issue is possession of title to San Leandro Hospital, which Sutter contends the District illegally withheld when it denied their right to purchase the facility under a much-decried agreement between the parties in 2008.  Sutter's request was rebuffed a year later by the District Board of Directors in 2009.

An Alameda Court Superior judge ruled in favor of Sutter last year, but the District appealed the decision arguing a former District board member possessed a conflict of interest in signing the controversial 2008 agreement. In addition, they say, George Bischalany, the current CEO of Sutter's Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley also served, at the time, in the same capacity with the District.

A loss in appellate court for the District would be devastating for the group of hardy local residents who have passionately fought for the hospital to remain open as a full-service facility with 24-hour emergency room access, but not fatal.

Numerous alternatives have been bandied about by the District and Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan. Among them consolidating  disparate services, including acute rehabilitation services, at San Leandro Hospital with help from the Alameda County Medical Center.

Another plan is merging St. Rose Hospital in Hayward with San Leandro Hospital under the umbrella of the health care district. Doing so, officials say, would allow the two hospital a greater economy of scale in procuring state and federal dollars.

OSIsoft Eyes Land Once Set Aside For Low-Income Crossings Housing Project

SAN LEANDRO | Oct. 20, 2011 | San Leandro Crossings, the  stalled and controversial housing project proposed to be built adjacent to the San Leandro BART station, is being eyed for expansion by neighboring OSIsoft, according to city staff.
"The project is stalled, but I wouldn't say it is dead, said Luke Sims, the city's community development director. "We will go forward, albeit, perhaps in a little bit different way."

Sims told the City Council Monday night the growing software firm headquartered in San Leandro is in negotiating to expand its Davis Street footprint to the neighboring vacant lot once set aside for construction of 100 market rate and low-income homes.

"Hopefully, with that component, the rest of the pieces can come together," said Sims.

The project known as "The Crossings" also includes a multi-story parking garage for BART riders south of the development and 200 market rate homes across San Leandro Boulevard to the east of the BART station.

The Crossings project, though, has been in a holding pattern for nearly a year-and-a-half after the owner of the property threatened to pull out of the deal when the state asked for more stringent guarantees that all of the units would eventually be constructed.

"That put the city in a precarious risk position," Sims said, "and we had to pull back from moving forward." Others involved in the development, including Bridge and the Westlake Group, also became ancy over the financial risks, said Sims.

Ultimately, tax credits awarded by state were revoked. The city is still searching to find alternative sources of revenue to allow the project to move forward. "We are continuing to work and try to identify either tax credits or other financing from the state to allow this project to proceed," said Sims. That has not been achieved."

The more pricey portion of the development compromising 200 market rates homes is also suffering due to the poor housing market. "It is confounded by the residential market," said Sims. "Rents are not there to support new construction at this point."

When initially proposed in 2008, the Crossings was described as one of the focal points of San Leandro's new transit-oriented downtown linking the BART station to the city's downtown. A small group of rabid opponents, though, decried the inclusion of low-income housing units in the plan.

The group sometimes known as "Save San Leandro" wondered how the city would handle the influx of young children that may have added to already stuffed classrooms. Some proponents of The Crossings still contend the opposition's stance was rooted in racism and housing discrimination.

In the end, thousands of BART riders each day peer through the windows of their trains and see a vacant, weed-infested plot of real estate with little or no possibility of being developed anytime in the near future.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

San Leandro Police On The Verge Of Promoting First Female Officer To Sergeant

Oct. 20, 2011 | Last year, San Leandro acknowledged its woeful record in hiring women and minorities at the police department needed to be rectified. In January, it tabbed Sandra Spagnoli as the city's first female police chief, but the hiring glossed over a shockingly low number of minorities working within the force and, in particular, those with higher authority.

That may be about to change. Sources within the department say two current female officers have applied for promotion to sergeant this month. Both began the interview process Oct. 14. They and an unknown number of additional candidates, met with the chief sometime this week, according to the source.

No woman has ever been promoted permenantly to any rank above officer in San Leandro history. Officer Anne O'Callaghan, one of the two women seeking promotion, controversially held the position as acting sergeant for three months in 2008.

O'Callaghan is a 20-year veteran of the force and was one of the six female officers who filed civil suits against the city in 2008. She claimed the department passed her over for promotion based on age and gender discrimination. The city settled with O'Callaghan in U.S. District Court last year for $225,000. O'Callaghan is also the wife of current sergeant and POA president Mike Sobek.

Officer Kerri Kovach, another long-time member of the force, is also believed to be seeking promotion for sergeant.

As of September, of the 91 sworn officers on active duty, on disability or receiving workers compensation, just 4 are women, according to the city.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Calif. Supreme Court To Hear Redevelopment Lawsuits Nov. 10

Oct. 19, 2011 | The California Supreme Court announced Wednesday it will begin oral arguments Nov. 10 over a the state's right to eliminate local redevelopment agencies.

The lawsuit filed by the League of California Cities asserts Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to eliminate the redevelopment unless cities are willing to contribute $1.7 billion next year is unconstitutional and violates the voter-approved Proposition 22, which forbids balancing the state budget with borrowing from local jurisdictions.

The contentious legal fight is of utmost importance to many municipalities who continue to grapple excruciating budget cuts just to maintain public services amid troubling economic times.

The state is slated to begin receiving the first installment of redevelopment dollars in January. The behest of the League of California Cities, the Court agreed to expedite a ruling on the matter. Regardless of the outcome, nearly all East Bay cities have reluctantly approved making the controversial payments to continue the work of its redevelopment agencies.

Anti-Sacramento denunciation have become commonplace at local City Halls. The mayor and city manager of Hayward routinely rail against Sacramento's penchant for local money-grabs. Hayward City Manager Fran David went as far as to characterize Brown's plan "ransom."

Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney, on numerous occasions, has put the blame for approving the redevelopment legislation, squarely on the heads of its local representatives, State Sen. Ellen Corbett and Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi.

Oral arguments begin Nov. 10, 9 a.m. at the Earl Warren Building and Courthouse in San Francisco.

Women's Group Holding Fundraiser for Assembly Candidate Accused of Hitting Ex

Oct. 19, 2011 | The women's group ostensibly created to support embattled assembly candidate Joel Young after his campaign was rocked with accusations of domestic violence against an ex-girlfriend, is holding a fundraiser next month as local support continues to dwindle.

"The Women's Committee to Elect Joel Young to State Assembly cordially invites you to join as a special guest for an afternoon of wine, cheese and art," says the group which is requesting $250 for a host contribution, $100 for sponsors and $25 for guests for the Nov. 5 function in Oakland.

The invitation lists just 37 members for the host committee, led by Oakland Councilwoman Desley Brooks and Oakland attorney Meredith Brown. The "Women for Joel" committee created sometime this summer originally listed 65 local female leaders and politicians.

Young, who was elected to the AC Transit Board of Directors last year, was once viewed as rising star until last March when he was accused of hitting a woman in the face after she caught Young in bed with another woman.

Numerous sources say Young is telling potential supporters the complaint was dismissed by an Alameda County Superior Court judge, but this is not entirely case. Instead, the judge cast significant doubt over Young's story that he was merely defending himself. The request for restraining orders by both sides was dismissed by the judge allowing the plaintiff to pursue a civil case against Young, which has not yet been filed.

Support for Young has been in a steady decline during the past few months as the big political players in the 18th District begin a push to align themselves with anyone of the four candidates hoping to replace Assemblyman Sandre Swanson. The relatively paltry donation request may also be a sign Young is grabbing at slim pickings.

Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta, Peralta Community College Trustee Abel Guillen and Kathy Neal are also vying for the revamped assembly seat that represents a large swath of Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hayward City Manager Is Setting A Trap For City Union Employees

Oct. 18, 2011 | Hayward's Finance Director Tracy Vesely does what she is told. She is a good worker. After performing the same job in San Leandro for just over seven months last year, she competently guided the city to a balance budget featuring few stomach-churning decisions to contemplate. Unlike other neighboring cities, San Leandro had already made the drastic cuts to employees and city services two years earlier. Her new gig is a little different.

Last week, Vesely made her first public appearance before the Hayward City Council. Her budget forecast was predictably unpleasant, but transparent, in a good way. It is easy to hide behind numbers, of course, but like her brief soiree in San Leandro, she did not gloss over what some might call accounting tricks. She identified $8 million in "illiquid" funds within the past 2011 fiscal budget that was not included in last year's budget. The result represented a clearer picture of the past budget since the figure was not cash-on-hand, she said, and primarily $7.7 million in redevelopment loans. But with a sleight of hand, the $8 million suddenly became "liquid" within this year's budget. So, why include the $8 million one year and not the other?

The projection does one thing. It sends a message from Hayward's notorious anti-pension crusading city manager to labor that a balance budget will again fall on the backs of city employee unions. Vesely showed no indication she maintained an ideology similar to City Manager Fran David when she was in San Leandro. In fact, if she was bent on breaking the backs of city employees, she already had a strong ally in San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy. That's why Vesely is merely doing the job the boss asks her to do.

It was clear during last Tuesday's council meeting, Vesely's budget presentation was heading towards putting the onus of labor without it being verbalized, that is, until Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney called her out.

"Two-thousand-twelve is a lower number in part because of [labor] concessions,right?" interjected Sweeney. "Correct," said Vesely. "So, I was wondering when you were going to mention that? It helps explain some of the difference, doesn't it?" said Sweeney.

Make no mistake, this imaginary budget shortfall is the work of David. Her hostility towards unions is easily accessed on the web, including a shockingly frank blog on the city's web site. She is setting a trap for city employees before going into labor negotiations in the next year.

The city's is already in the read over $4 million, according to projections. When labor pushes back, the number will rise to $12 million when David adds the "shape-shifting" $8 million in encumbrances from redevelopment. The burden then becomes artificially higher along with the stakes. Before you know it, wages and benefits resume a consistent retreat. Remember, all politics is local and in Hayward, at a micro-level, the downtrodden 99 percent will grow ever more slightly and citizens wonder why?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Assembly Race in 18th District Is Spitting Past Loyalties Among Campaigns

Oct. 17, 2011 | One of the most interesting aspects of the wide-open race to replace Assemblyman Sandre Swanson in District 18 is how allies to all four sides are so closely connected.
In most cases, Rob Bonta, Joel Young, Abel Guillen and Kathy Neal at one point or another endorsed each other in previous elections. The quartet is also popular among labor groups and will likely cannibalize their support. Since most of the available campaign talent in the East Bay is labor related, previous allies are finding themselves on different teams.

The unintended consequence of such divisions may lead to a race with very few distinctions between candidates. With over eight months until the June primary, the only major difference between the four is one of them--Joel Young—was reprimanded by a Superior Court judge. The judge bluntly said in court transcripts he believed Young hit his ex-girlfriend in the face last March.

The new 18th District, covering a large chunk of Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro, was once referred to as the “black seat” in the assembly, but that may no longer be the case. This race is notable for its "Colors of Benetton" flavor. Bonta is Filipino, Young is a biracial African American, Guillen is Latino and Neal is a woman. No other race in the Bay Area exhibits the growing power of minority groups than this one. Calling this seat for an African American is no longer a given since the results of the U.S. Census this year reporting a breathtaking exodus of the near-majority demographic from Oakland over the last decade.

Will the familiarity breed a cordial, respectful race? Probably not. A campaign for the Legislature is in many ways about legacy. Win a spot and you are forever referred to as a former assembly member. Some of the East Bay acolytes aligning themselves with each campaign are also known to play an aggressive brand of politics. While they will likely cut each other, it's all business until the election is over. When the ballot are tallied, the whole team will get back together and find the next interesting race.

Hayward Continues to Feel Effects of Poor Economy; Forecasts $14m Deficit Next Year

HAYWARD | Oct. 17, 2011 | Hayward is looking at the possibility of again trying to shave away a multi-million dollar budget shortfall next year "if we do nothing," said the city's finance director.

The city, like nearly all municipalities in Alameda County, have cut millions from fiscal budgets over the past few years in the midst of the Great Recession. Tracy Vesely, Hayward's new finance director, told the council last week, she is projected a shortfall of $14.8 for the 2013 fiscal year and $18.4 million the following year.

By the 2014 budget, Hayward's current $28 million general fund reserve will be wiped out, she said, that is, in the unlikely event the city does nothing to ease the burden.

The lingering poor economy is the main culprit for stagnant revenues, she said, and few signs shows it brightening anytime soon. "All the latest economic forecasts are not showing any kind of market improvement," said Vesely. "There's a hint out there of a second recession. I don't know if that's true, but we are seeing it directly impact the city of Hayward's reserve."

Vesely forecasts just one percent increases in revenues for the next fiscal year and only one-two percent growth over the next few years. Like all cities, Hayward receive much of its revenue from property and sales tax. Next year, those two revenue sources will amount to over 55 percent of Hayward's income. If residents are not in the mood to buy homes or head on personal spending sprees, the revenues will continue to mirror the poor health of neighboring and national economies.

Vesely, who recently moved to Hayward City Hall from the same post in San Leandro, cautioned it is still very early in the budget process and the numbers furnished last week will change in one direction or another.

The presentation also appeared to give notice to the city's public employee unions they will again need to make concessions next year and in the future. All budget projections contained in the 10-year outlook did not include potential labor negotiations, Veslely said. Included are increased structural expenditures for 2013, highlighted by rising costs associated with health care for retirees, capital and maintenance needs and the loss of revenue from vehicle license fees. A $11 million in expenses next year is mostly related to labor costs, she said, including higher CalPERS rates and medical benefits.

In the meantime, there is much to do before Hayward residents get a clearer view of the budget for next year. A mid-year presentation is scheduled for early February, but the books for 2011 are not yet closed, said Vesely. The city will perform an official audit this week. Vesely said last year's budget concluding in June is still about $200,000 in the red.

VIDEO from #OccupyOakland, Oct. 14, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bonta's Assembly War Chest Grows Quickly

Oct. 13, 2011 | Rob Bonta's campaign for assembly is on a fundraising binge. The freshman Alameda councilman told The Citizen Tuesday night his campaign has jumped over the six-figures mark and nearing $120,000. The amount would put him nearly square with a few of his opponents, namely Joel Young and Abel Guillen. Oakland's Kathy Neal is also running to replace termed out Sandre Swanson next spring.

In terms of fundraising, Bonta has gone from zero-to-sixty. During the first half of this year, Bonta's fundraising reports filled with the state secretary of state, showed no funds while his account for council was thousands in the red.

None of the quick infusion of cash came from his more famous Yale schoolmate, Theo Epstein, he said. "No, I'll have to call him," said Bonta. Epstein, who was general manager of the Boston Red Sox during their run to two World Series titles, gave $500 last year to his college friend's council campaign. Reports say Epstein is likely to sign a $15 million contract with the Chicago Cubs. Might some of that money be coming to the friendly confines of Alameda?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Alameda Citizens' Group Ask AG to Investigate Alleged Corruption; Wants To Disband Fire Dept.

ALAMEDA | Oct. 12, 2011 | An Alameda citizens' group has asked the state attorney general to investigate allegations of corruption between members of the City Council and Fire Department.

The group led by eight community members, including former council candidate Adam Gillett requested the investigation in a letter dated Aug. 15. As of yet, no response has been received from the attorney general's office.

"We urge you to immediately open an investigation. Corruption between the firefighters union and the new mayor and city council members is rife in the City of Alameda," the complaint reads.

"The firefighters union is governing our city and the agencies that are suppose to ensure, ethical and effective government are looking the other way. We are due for more of the same. As you can see from recent events, our very lives are at risk."

The range of complaints listed in the letter cover a host hot-button political controversies over the past year in Alameda. From cries of council coziness with the firefighters union, past skirmishes with land developer SunCal over the future of Alameda Point to the firing of the past city manager. But, the tragic death of Alameda resident Raymond Zack last Memorial Day at Crown Beach, to the group, epitomized local government ineffectiveness that lead directly to the drowning of Zack as public safety personnel appeared to simply watch from the beach.

Standing on the steps in front of City Hall Tuesday evening before the City Council discussed the report into the response to the incident, Gillett said the group considers Zack's demise "a case of negligent homicide."

"We believe there is corruption between the leadership of the Alameda Fire Department, the [International Association of Fire Fighters] IAFF Local 689 and Alameda City Hall, which led to the preventable death of Raymond Zack," said Gillett.

The report written by former state fire chief Ruben Grijalva is not compete and inaccurate and recommends offering more resources to police and fire, said Gillett. "While the report rightly points out the systematic failures in command and communication skills," Gillett said. "it blindly offers generous suggestions to spend more money on training and equipment while ignoring the crux of the problem: management failures and a total lack of accountability or performance requirements and metrics.

Gillett says repeated mentions of missing boats and a vanishing water rescue program in the report misses the point. "Firefighters could have just walked out to talk to him, used a bullhorn, or utilized the rescue long board that has been on display in fire station, number one for many years now."

The same group has begun circulating a petition urging City Manager John Russo to disband the city's fire department and align it with the Alameda County Fire Department. In a response on Twitter, the county fire department said it had no stance on the proposal, but in a response to the question and an unsolicited retweet of a comment by this reporter broadcasting the group's suggestion might be telling.

There is little doubt adding Alameda under the county's jurisdiction would save millions for the city and likely ingratiated it with other neighboring cities, who could further defray their costs with the addition of Alameda. The firefighters union, whose rising political power may have hit a tipping point, would likely oppose any merger since it would like result in a loss of jobs.

Answers In the Crown Beach Drowning Hard To Come By As Alamedans Press Public Safety

ALAMEDA | Oct. 12, 2011 | The former state fire chief hired earlier this year to investigated the tragic drowning of Alameda resident Raymond Zack faulted the city’s public safety agencies for its inaction and institutional jealousy, but failed to shed new light on why the distressed man could not be saved last Memorial Day.

“I believe the decision was not bureaucratic,” Ruben Grijalva said of the heavily criticized decision to not confront Zack in the bay waters. “I believe it was a safety and training issue.”

“One of the primary things that needed to occur was that initial contact that could have offered him help,” he told the council Tuesday night

Despite initial comments critical of the police and fire department, Grijalva appeared to teeter back and forth to somewhat absolving the organizations. His report was released to the public Sept. 30.

“One of the things widely reported was that the police and fire stood around and did nothing while this incident occurred. My review indicates that is not factual,” Grijalva said. “There was a lot going on and a lot of limitation they had going on, but the response time to the incident was good.”

Councilman Doug de Haan noted many Alamedans continually ask why someone did not attempt to engage Zack. At one point, de Haan asked what would have happened to personnel if they had waded into the shallow water and talked to him. “Would an individual be reprimanded for doing such a thing?” de Haan said. “Are we so stringent that our individual firefighters and police officers are scared?” Grijalva did not answer the question, but said he believes officers at the scene were under the impression additional resources were on the way.

According to Grijalva’s report, help was not on the way and was further stymied by poor communication and historical animosity between police and fire, including an initial conversation conveyed by a fire department commander. “The manner in which that was reported back to them was less than professional,” said Grijalva, “and left the incident commander kind of wondering, ‘What is your role here?’”

Alameda Police Chief Mike Noonan and Interim Fire Chief Mike D’Orazi both took responsibility for the handling of the tragedy. “We apologize to the community. We expect better. You deserve better and from the police department we will get better,” said Noonan. D’Orazi offered his condolences to Zack’s foster mother for the pain she has endured from the ordeal and said step have been taken so it never happens again.

“I’m not here to blame the police department or fire department,” said Dolores Berry, Zack’s foster mother. “They did what they had to do.” She described Zack as quiet. “He didn’t have much to say,” she added. “We hardly ever had a conversation.”

She said Zack suffered from depression and was extremely religious. She strenuously objected to consistent references to him as violent or suicidal. “He was very, very religious and the thought of committing suicide and going to hell would never be a thought in his mind,” she said, “and I know him well.” Several witnesses of the incident at Crown Beach reported Zack was praying in the water while grasping rosary beads.

De Haan also disagreed with the term "suicidal," as did numerous public speakers. Grijalva said by Zack placing himself in the water, it could be inferred he was suicidal. He stressed it was not reflective on the person, but the situation. By confronting Zack, said Grijalva, they could have better assessed whether he was or not.

Resident highly critical of the incident and of the subsequent report have railed against inaccuracies, they say, is in the document. Specifically references to the water temperature and the probable time frame of survivability. The report lists the waters at Crown Beach at 54 degrees, while opponents say it was over 61 degrees. Despite the fact, the warmer temperature would have given Zack a longer period of survivability, opponents have used information to discredit the contents of the entire report. Grijalva said his lower figure was obtained from a web site, named iwindsurf.com. Sensors around Crown Beach are located near the U.S.S. Hornet, he said.

This will likely not be the last forum of public angst over the death of Zack. An Alameda citizens' group is calling for California Attorney General Kamala Harris to investigate allegations of corruption between City Hall and the Fire Department. The group is also circulating a petition asking Alameda City Manager John Russo to disband the fire department and merge it with Alameda County Fire. Russo also said he will bring the issue back for council discussion sometime next February.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Batts Out of Hell: Oakland Police Chief Resigns

Oct. 11, 2011 | During a contentious and often raucous council meeting in Oakland last week, an angry resident mocked Anthony Batts, the city's chief of police. "I'm Chief Batts," he said. "I don't want to be here. I wanted to go to San Jose!" The catcall now seems prescient.

Batts announced his resignation from the force Tuesday afternoon, effective next month. Oakland's city attorney also announced news earlier today of Batts' departure.

"I found myself with limited control, but full accountability," Batts said in his resignation letter to employees. "The landscape has changed radically over the past two years and with new and different challenges."
Earlier this year, it was revealed the slick and sometimes combative Batts was a candidate for the same position in San Jose. Ultimately, he was passed over for another candidate, but the perception he was attempting to jump ship rankled many residents and city leaders. No information regarding Batts' future was given.

Numerous reports detailed a strained relationship with Mayor Jean Quan, which he denied last March. Last Tuesday's six-hour marathon council meeting where councilmembers pushed hot-bottom public safety proposals further into the future may have been the breaking point for Batts. Council support for instituting youth curfews in addition to gang injunctions and loitering laws appeared to wane last week. All three issues were tabled until next week.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Alameda County Approves Short-Term Funding For Non-Profits In Procurement Dispute

Oct. 4, 2011 | The Alameda County Board of Supervisor may have successfully stanched a potentially vulnerable wound opened recently with calls of conflict of interest by several local non-profits in its procurement of health services contracts.

The board unanimously approved what is effectively bridge funding to nine drug and alcohol prevention non-profits. The additional funding will allow the groups to continue services until the end of March 2012.

Alex Briscoe, the director of Alameda County Health Services, said the additional funding will total $224,000 and come from unallocated dollars associated with Measure A.

In July, two local non-profits whose bids were previously rejected, appealed the county's decision based on the perception of impropriety by several county staff members who sat on decision-making committees involving the bids. The county auditor ultimately sided with the two groups and called for the procurement contracts to be nullified and restarted.

Two staff members from Supervisor Nate Miley's office and one from Supervisor Keith Carson's staff were cited. Miley's long-time girlfriend also heads one of the non-profits under consideration for drug and alcohol prevention funding.

On Sept. 20, the board led by a motion from Carson directed the Health Care Services Agency to create a criteria for providing short-term funding to bridge the gap between contract's expiration until March. Since many of the non-profits, up to 17 originally bid on the contracts, the exercise has potential to further stoke animus among the groups, many of whom have vocalized their unhappiness at board meetings the past three weeks.

"We have exhausted all modes of protest," said Lillian Galedo of the Filipino for Affirmative Action, which under the plan will receive an additional $24,250 in funding following $43,574 received under the former contract.

Briscoe said the agency's criteria for short-term funding includes identifying groups able to deliver services within the next six months in addition to being able to provide the services with the current funding level available to them. Priority was also given to programs that would otherwise be unable to provide any services at all without the additional funding.

Three previously unfunded non-profits received $24,250 in funding. Bay Area Community Services and Community Health for Asian Americans, both located in Oakland, received new funding as did New Bridge Foundation in Berkeley, which received $30,000.

Carson was particularly peeved Tuesday at the perception he was not included in the health care agency's discussion in terms of allocating the additional short-term funding. As the maker of the original motion asking the agency to revisit short-term funding, Carson scolded Briscoe for leaving him out of the loop. Briscoe said he had spoken directly to Supervisors Nadia Lockyer, Wilma Chan and Scott Haggerty last week regarding the proposal, but also with members of Carson's staff on numerous occasions. Carson told Briscoe this was not communicated to him by his staff.

Alameda County, Oakland Agree To Pact Linking Bay Trail at High Street Bridge

Oct. 4, 2011 | Bill Lockyer's dream of creating a recreational trail one day encompassing the entire Bay Area, received another link in the chain Tuesday as the Alameda County Board of Supervisors approved a pact with the City of Oakland to begin work at the High Street Bridge.

The over 500-mile Bay Trail will one day soon be connected under and around the High Street Bridge. The cooperative agreement unanimously approved Tuesday by the board comes at no cost to the county. Funding for the project comes from an initiative approved by Oakland residents in 2002 allotting $53 million for improvements to the Bay Trail and other park projects.

According to a staff report, the project will widen an existing catwalk beneath the bridge and connect it to land giving current users of the Bay Trail around the High Street Bridge a continuous route.The compact was needed in part because the county owns and maintains the existing catwalk and drawbridge.

Former San Leandro Mayor Young To Consult For Supe Chan In San Lorenzo

Oct. 4, 2011 | Technically, Shelia Young is not the former mayor of San Leandro. Specifically, her title is mayor emeritus, but Alameda County Supervisor Wilma isn't interested Young's experiences with San Leandro, but instead,with neighboring San Lorenzo.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors Tuesday afternoon approved a $28,800 contract for Young to become a liaison for the county and San Lorenzo's typically raucous Village Homeowners Association and the more sedate chamber of commerce.

The tough-talking Tennessean, Young, should a match for the homeowners association that is infamous for spontaneously morphing into a scene from a professional wrestling match with screaming residents and feigning to toss folding chairs at opponents.

The tiny unincorporated enclave has received much attention from the board of supervisors over the years led now by Chan and preceded by Alice Lai-Bitker. Both supervisors have sought to remake San Lorenzo's downtown surrounding the former Mervyn's building abutting Hesperian Boulevard and Paseo Padre, in addition to continuing improvements to the town's library.