Feb. 13, 2012 | The health of Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer has long been a private concern to her staff and inner-circle for much of her campaign for the seat in 2010 and first year in office.
Although her husband, the powerful State Treasurer Bill Lockyer insinuated in an interview last weekend with the San Francisco Chronicle his wife may have a problem with alcohol, the problem is more wide-spread than a few cocktails, according to numerous county sources.
Lockyer also confirmed with the Phil Matier and Andrew Ross that Nadia was the victim of assault Feb. 3 by an ex-boyfriend at a Newark motel.
Amid the spin and damage control lies a worsening condition for the 40-year-old supervisor, who sources portray as caught in a classic whirlwind of substance abuse among a coterie of enablers more interested in cashing in politically than serving her best interests.
Even as Lockyer breezed to an easy victory in 2010, she did so on the back of an avalanche of glossy campaign mailers paid with an unprecedented infusion of nearly $2 million in campaign contributions from Bill Lockyer's own re-election coffers. One notably expensive mailer included an actual yard sign folded in thirds. Bill's money bought Nadia anonymity that easily masked a peculiarly shy and erratic young woman unable to speak extemporaneously in private and rarely addressed an audience without the aid of a written statement.
During the supervisorial campaign, a few surrogates had a reason for her behavior. They floated the meme of a nearly catastrophic car accident a decade ago had robbed her of some of her faculties. While the accident is fact--she once recalled to me living in an assisted-living home while she convalesced--nobody could be found to ascribe to any changes in her demeanor before and after.
In hindsight, numerous sources involved in the 2010 supervisorial campaign, now say they witnessed the seeds of Nadia's alleged use of controlled substances. One opponent said last week their campaign suspected substace abuse during the stretch run as Nadia inexplicably took a 30-day leave of absence from the campaign trail and her job at the Alameda County Family Justice Center, which she headed. More specifically, another opponent's campaign was aware of a DUI issued to Nadia a year earlier in Union City. No record of the alleged stop was ever found leaving the campaign to wonder if Bill's tenure as attorney general and vast contacts in law enforcement had made the DUI vanish.
Many unequivocally point to Bill's power and prestige as the sole reason for Nadia's quick rise to the county's most prized and comfortable seat--the Board of Supervisors. In 2009, Bill said "I'll do everything I can to get Nadia elected." The quote, oozing with pride and ego, hovered menacingly over the then-upcoming election a year later. The statement was just about the most honest thing Bill has ever said in his 40-year career in politics. The couple married in 2003 and have a young son. The East Bay rumor mill has long churned out a belief that Bill, nearly three decades her senior, ordered a paternity test to confirm the child was indeed his and allege their nuptial were of the shotgun variety. Not only did Bill personally fund her campaign, he called in favors from all levels of California government. Jerry Brown, then running for his own powerplay of vanity and pride, even vouched for the young Nadia.
Once Nadia took a seat at the dais of the county's supervisors, she found a vastly more rough and tumble atmosphere than she could have ever imagined. The Alameda County supervisors are known for their aggressive and rough-hewn tactics. Supervisors Scott Haggerty and Nate Miley are bullies and while Wilma Chan and Keith Carson are more cordial, their behind-the-scenes demeanor tends to be gruff and cold. The tone among existing staff members in preparation of Nadia's arrival in January 2011 predicted an ugly scene of four vicious Dobermans awaiting dinner in the form of a defenseless kitty cat.
In Nadia's first year, there have been instances of her colleagues rolling their eyes at her public comments and overt, but brief flashes of exacerbation at her line of questioning when addressing county staff. At the minimum, Lockyer has been treated like a rookie with a million dollar bonus trying to crack the Big League roster of veterans who had clearly paid their dues.
By the summer of last year and after her first six months in office, county staff began noticing stark changes in Nadia's physical condition. While she never weighed more than 120 pounds, according to staff, she appeared thinner than ever. At the dais during public meetings, her eyes became round and buggy. Almost stuck in a perpetual state of surprise. Her face appeared noticeable gaunt, which only made her cheekbones gain more prominence than before. There had been whispers that her visage suggested an eating disorder, but recently, they say, the telltale signs of something more ominous was occurring to Nadia.
Whether it's Nadia's inability to serve the residents of District 2 on her own merits or something more sinister is going on, there is overwhelming conjecture her staff is laudably keeping things together despite her inaction. The situation, though, features an upside for the community, but serious problems for Nadia personally, leading some observers to charge those around her with enabling her alleged habit by systematically providing her cover instead of seeking the help she desperately needs.
A source told The Citizen last week they had witnessed markings on Nadia's arm within the past two months. Nadia had characterized the numerous dots as bug bites, the source said. When Bill told the Chronicle he and Nadia had recently separated, it provided truth to a rumor passing around locally. Word of the split only heightened when the couple cancelled a fundraiser at their Hayward home in December. The Lockyers are scheduled to host another fundraiser this month for Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk's campaign for the 20th assembly district.
While numerous people familiar with Nadia describe a woman showing the signs of substance abuse, others point to the still mysterious dismissal of her noted chief of staff as a possible harbinger to the news surrounding the supervisor today.
Christine Gasparac, who came with a sterling reputation and credential, was fired last fall by Lockyer. She came to position by way of Bill through Jerry Brown. Community leaders in the Hayward area still praise Gasparac's ability, yet the reason for her firing has been as close to a state secret as possible in the gossipy East Bay political class. Gasparac issued a complaint over her dismissal. The Board of Supervisors discussed the complaint in closed session last October, followed by a settlement the next month. Gasparac is believed to have received nine months severance pay. While there a no details of the settlement, county staff indicated before news of the Feb. 3 assault that the issue surrounding Gasparac's firing included a general, but cryptic concern over Nadia's health.
Once bits of information were pieced together with news of Nadia's presence at a seedy Newark motel with a man known to local authorities as a low-level drug dealer, a picture of a sick woman began to emerge.
One of Lockyer's opponents for supervisor, when alerted of the incident in Newark by The Citizen last week quickly charged those around Nadia with enabling a woman clearly crying out for help and does not buy the story peddle by Bill to the Chronicle. Many others have also made the eery connection between the death last Saturday of Whitney Houston from alleged abuse of prescription drugs occuring on the same day news of Nadia being assaulted by an ex-boyfriend was made public.
"This is a beautiful, young woman with a problem," said the source, "and she needs help. Nobody is giving it to her. Nobody cares about Nadia!"