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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

2012 Year In Review, Part II: A Stark Meltdown Creates An Opening For Swalwell

04.12
Eric Swalwell gets much-deserved attention for his poignantly retro reformulation of Pete Stark’s 1972 mini-debate with George P. Miller. Hoping to play off the end of an era theme Stark used 40 years ago, the mock-up cements the potent theme of history on the side of Swalwell’s upstart campaign. However, Swalwell could have never imagined how well the April 10 forum with Stark would turn out for him.

The candidates forum at Hayward City Hall can now be viewed as the end of Pete Stark’s 40-year career in Congress. At the infamous debate, Stark accuses Swalwell of accepting “hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes” from a Tri Valley developer, while calling him a “pipsqueak” and “bush leaguer.” Stark later backtracks from the statement, but a story in October bolsters his allegations. However, the damage is too great to repair. The forum is the last time both will meet in public. A few days later, Swalwell will threaten legal action against Stark for the comments.

After nearly three years in the courts, Sutter Health takes control of San Leandro Hospital after the state Supreme Court denies the Eden Township Healthcare District’s petition to hear the case over the right to title to the community hospital. Now, the question of whether Sutter will close the facility as a general care hospital lingers as does the potential for it extracting legal costs from the District that could potentially bankrupt the government body.

Three days after Nadia Lockyer sent a bizarre text message insinuating suicide to a San Jose Mercury News reporter, her and her husband, Bill Lockyer, show up at a Democratic Party fundraiser in Fremont. The couple acts as if nothing has happened and provides numerous awkward moments for some in attendance. The absurdity of the situation and the Democratic Party’s enabling is seen in full view in the year’s most poignant photograph of party cognoscenti, including the Lockyers, posing with their thumbs up.

Alameda County has somewhat good economic news as County Administrator Susan Muranishi announces the funding gap has dropped from $137 million a year ago to $88 million in 2012, the lowest in four years. Excruciating cuts to the poor, old and young will still occur, but the shortfall, which reached a high of $177 million three years ago, shows the worst of the Great Recession is indeed behind the county’s 1.3 million residents.

Nadia Lockyer announces her resignation from the Alameda County Board of Supervisors after just 16 months in office. Even as her seat on the board is still warm, Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi already makes inquiries about replacing Lockyer to Supervisors Keith Carson and Scott Haggerty. Richard Valle, however, emerges as the early favorite because of his strong ties to labor.

It goes from bad to worse for Pete Stark when he makes unsubstantiated accusations that conservative columnist Debra Saunders made campaign contributions to Eric Swalwell’s campaign at an editorial meeting at the San Francisco Chronicle. Making matters worse, Stark also labels his 16-year-old son as his chief investigator. The bizarre performance is a gift that keeps on giving for a Swalwell campaign trying to show Stark as detached from reality.

05.12
Apparently perturbed by what he believes is continued harassment by the Lockyers, Nadia’s ex-boyfriend Steve Chikhani posts two short sex videos on YouTube. One show the former supervisor posing in lingerie while another X-rated clip shows Lockyer clearly masturbating on a bed. Chikhani never delivered upon his tantalizing quip of the sex affair being bigger than sex tapes, but these set the East Bay political class on overdrive and represent the most read posting in East Bay Citizen history. Tell me sex doesn’t sell.

An internal poll from Bill Quirk’s campaign in the 20th Assembly District shows him leading the five-person race with a tight battle for second. The poll proves accurate on Quirk’s part, but fails to show an astonishingly strong last two weeks of the primary campaign for Ong on the backs of special interest dollars.

The first indication that Eric Swalwell is willing to make a play for conservatives in the 15th Congressional District appears during an interview with MSNBC. Swalwell fails to deny he would accept super PAC money from a Texas-based Tea Party group to battle Stark. However, those groups will fail to come through.

At the behest of Supervisor Keith Carson and others, his former colleague Gail Steele applies for the appointment to Nadia Lockyer’s vacant District 2 seat. Her candidacy is viewed as a placeholder and alternative for the political wrangling surrounding the benefits of choosing an instant incumbent for the November special election. Mark Green will also enter the race while running concurrently for the state Assembly, as will Richard Valle and Ana Apodaca.

President Barack Obama endorses Rep. Pete Stark for re-election. Apparently, the president was unaware he called him a “lousy politician” during a town hall last year in Hayward. Later in May, Dennis Kucinich will comes to Dublin to rally the progressives on Stark’s behalf.

Newark Councilwoman Ana Apodaca appears to be the front runner to replace Nadia Lockyer after receiving the support of all five members of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. The group of five move on to a second interview the next week. However, backroom deals and shenanigans are alleged. In June, Supervisor Wilma Chan reverses her stance about filing the seat with a woman and backs Valle.

Steve Chikhani says he has not received the temporary restraining order sought by Nadia Lockyer after she tells the media Chikhani hired a man named “Tiny” to rape and kill her. Everything they’re putting in the paper is totally false,” Chikhani tells The Citizen. “She’s making things worse.”

In what becomes a proxy battle for the Hayward City Council race, the proposed Walmart supermarket on Whipple Road is defeated. The council votes 4-3 to uphold the planning commission’s decision in April. Three members of the council are up for re-election—Francisco Zermeno, Barbara Halliday and Olden Henson—in addition, to Planning Commissioner Al Mendall, who is also on the ballot. The deciding votes comes down to Henson, who votes against Walmart coming to Hayward. His vote, however, is his downfall two weeks later when he finishes fifth in the election and ends his 18 years on the City Council.

Joel Young lies again. At a candidate forum May 24 in Oakland’s Chinatown, Young arrives 20 minutes later and tells members of the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association he was tardy from a long car ride from Sacramento. However, numerous guests at a fundraiser in San Leandro that evening said they saw Young schlepping for his own campaign donations at the event to the consternation of the host.

Armed with a boatload of negative stories against Joel Young, an independent expenditure committee named, California Alliance, bombards mailboxes in Oakland with a barrage of nasty mailers knocking him for his antics over the past year.

Three independent expenditure groups pour over $200,000 into Dr. Jennifer Ong’s campaign in the 20th Assembly District. The outlay is one of the largest of any race in the entire state.

06.12
The dirty little secret in Hayward politics is unveiled five days before election day when it is disclosed Greg Jones, the former city manager and current candidate for City Council was pushed out of his position in 2010 after beginning an affair with then-Councilwoman Ana May. Multiple sources confirm Jones was on the verge of being fired for the transgression. The sexcapade is a harbinger of things to come in the "Heart of the Bay."

On primary day, the headlines tell the story. In AD 18: “Bonta, Guillen to meet in November leaving Young on the outside looking in.” In AD20: “Quirk holds off hard-charging Ong seeting up an interesting runoff in Assembly 20” and “Stark wins in CD15, but poor showing sets up a divisive race for Democrats.” In Hayward, Barbara Halliday, Francisco Zermeno win re-election to the City Council, along with Greg Jones and Al Mendall.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors are deadlocked, 2-2, between Richard Valle and Ana Apodaca for the appointment of Nadia Lockyer’s seat. The Citizen reports Wilma Chan is contemplating switching her vote to Valle. On June 11, the Board of Supervisors vote, 4-0, to appoint Valle to the seat. BUT! The craziness doesn’t end. Valle mysteriously alludes to a “secret” reason for the board’s decision to pick him over Apodaca. Supervisor Scott Haggerty is seen rolling his eyes.

Chris Pareja, the conservative former candidate for the 15th Congressional District, takes the unusual step of offering an anti-endorsement of Eric Swalwell. The move is not helpful to Swalwell who is now searching for conservative votes in the Tri Valley, but ultimately not devastating for his chances. The move, however, caps an eventful month for Pareja, who shocked many by nearly topping 22 percent of the primary vote.

C’mon! Now the political gods are piling on in Alameda County after Superior Court Judge Paul Seaman is accused of stealing the assets of a 97-year-old neighbor. Seaman will soon return to the bench because that’s how we do it in da Yay Area!

The Citizen is first to report Mary Hayashi is showing her cards for a run at Alameda County Supervisor in the fall when it is revealed she is asking local officials for their endorsements.

San Leandro’s zeal to become the East Bay’s green technology center clashes with greed and the environment when a wind turbine company on the shoreline wants to erect a windmill near the Heron Bay housing development. Critics charge the city with attempting to ram through the project down their throats without notification. The issue, still unresolved, sits before the city’s board of zoning adjustments for the next six months.

David Muhammad, the county’s chief probation officer, finally resigns after the county finds his accuser’s lawsuit is unsubstantiated. Muhammad, though, still hovers over the probation department as a consultant until his interim replacement is given the job full-time in December.

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