Thursday, May 31, 2012

Assembly Candidate Luis Reynoso Is The Reasonable Republican

May 31, 2012 | As an 8-year-old boy Luis Reynoso watched in 1968 with conflicting feelings of awe and fear as authorities in Guadalajara beat back and bludgeoned students protesting in the streets. “There’s something wrong here. One group has guns, the other group doesn’t,” he recalls thinking. As he observed the violence from a safe place, Reynoso remembered a sharp dressed man in a uniform barking orders at the troops and thinking how one day he could put himself in a position to clean up a mess like the one he was witnessing. “If this guy is telling people this, what if he told them something else?” he recalls today.

Fast forward over four decades and the something else Reynoso, the Hayward school district board member, is trying to tell voters in the 20th Assembly District, is a unique brand of conservatism that most have not heard about since the days Ronald Reagan was snacking on jelly beans in the White House. Reynoso’s history is a story rooted in classic “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” Republican ethos and backed with personal turmoil, triumph and a real life tale of the American Dream becoming a tangible reality.

Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Reynoso lost his father just before his seventh birthday. The cancer was quick and unforgiving. “It just kind of took him by surprise,” Reynoso says. “So my mom, she just couldn’t handle it and she came to the United States.” His mother arrived in Fremont around 1966, although, not entirely whole. Instead of bringing Reynoso and his three siblings for the trek to California, his mother left them in an orphanage until she called for them over four years later when Reynoso was 11-years-old. “That’s why I learned to be a tough kid. You had to be in some of these orphanages or you’re not going to survive.” Although those four years were difficult for the young boy, he harbors little anger towards the experience, knowing his mother needed to establish a new life before providing for her children. “She had to do what she had to do to survive,” he says. “You do whatever it takes. She took care of us the best she knew how.”

His experience is a major reason why Reynoso says he could never along with the peculiar strain of conservatism, currently en vogue, that harshly demonizes immigrants. Instead, they should be celebrated, he says. “It’s tough because you come here and you don’t know the language,” says Reynoso. “That’s why I have a lot respect for these immigrants who take the extra measures to learn the language and become a legal immigrant." He also noted that despite common talk radio talking points, the vast majority of immigrants come to this country legally. “We forget that we are all immigrants, no matter how you look at it.

When you start talking about issues of sexual orientation in school, there’s a difference between promoting the issue and actually informing about the issue. It’s a big mistake to bring that into the classroom.

When Reynoso got acquainted with his new life in America, he quickly got himself a paper route in San Leandro. Making $30-a-month with a beat up bicycle he bought at second hand store, he says the work made him proud. It also taught him to take his fate into his own hands. “I strongly believe in the dignity of work. The job you have may not be your dream job, but there’s dignity in working and we’re losing that as a society.” He points to the recent discussion over the past few months of bringing Walmart to Hayward. “Twelve dollars-an-hour is not good enough. We know that,” he says, “but there’s dignity in providing for your family. There’s dignity in not taking handouts.” Even as a young child he recounts how the school principal called his parents because he wouldn’t accept free lunch tickets. “It was so repugnant to me to take food as a gift because somehow people feel sorry for you. If I ask, it’s a different story.” However, he realizes life is unpredictable and some are more fortunate than others. “I do understand, at some point in our lives, we need help sometimes,” he says. “If you contribute to your unemployment and something happens, you need a little bit of help, but that doesn’t mean you get help for the rest of your life. You need to make something happen.”

Reynoso’s views on teaching sexual orientation in schools has drawn some detractors, but he believes he is misunderstood. Instead of demeaning the group, he says he respects their cause, but says already struggling teachers are overloaded in the classroom. “I certainly don’t believe it belongs in schools, but I will support you,” Reynoso says. “Whatever you do in your private life, I will support you because the government has no role in telling you who you need to marry or how your life needs to be in your home.” As a Catholic who recently received a doctorate from USF, Reynoso’s view is a tidy mixture of personal perseverance and theology. “If you really want to practice morality, then the way to do it is to let God judge. That would be true morality.”

“We bicker to much about social issues when we should be focusing on the economy. The role of social issues is when someone is being oppressed. School is about education. There isn’t a place for it. There’s absolutely no place for it, for sure.” When asked if gay history would be fair game to teach in schools, he said, “Absolutely.” “When you start talking about issues of sexual orientation in school, there’s a difference between promoting the issue and actually informing about the issue. Teachers have a tough time right now with the curriculum, they just don’t have time. It’s a big mistake to bring that into the classroom.”

Reynoso says he doesn’t know if he will run for re-election to the school board in Hayward, but he’s contemplating it because he says there is still more work to be done. “We’re having a real hard time managing our money,” he said of the current board. “There are people on my board who think we should be spending more money and not cut back on things.” The school district is still not out of the woods with its scary flirtation with state receivership. However, he has campaigned against the school district’s parcel tax, Measure G, which he says is unnecessary. “The district loses $2-4 million-a-year in waste,” he says. “Just by saving that we don’t need this parcel tax.”

When asked if voters ever wonder why he is running for the Assembly when he has not yet been able to mend the city’s schools, Reynoso said he often gets that question and says there’s only so much you can do in the minority. But, he also believes the board is beginning to make strides. “Before, whatever came through--BOOM--you’ve got the vote.” Now, he says, they better monitor the bidding process and challenge staff recommendations. Reynoso’s tough and sometimes antagonistic rants, however, have also rubbed some at the school district the wrong way. One infamous episode two years ago involved Reynoso being escorted out of City Hall chambers during one school board meeting after he forcefully laid into Jesus Armas over allegations the former Hayward city manager’s wife employment with the school district was derived from nepotism.

At one point, during the two hour interview at a coffee shop across from Chabot College, Reynoso launched a biting and often times hilarious rant against nearly all of his challengers for the 20th Assembly District.

On Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk: “Part of his history is ‘B’ Street. It’s a ghost town. He was a proponent for this power plant next to all these elementary schools and Chabot College. I don’t know what is going through his head…I’m surprised the environmentalist haven’t gone after him.”

He next added another opponent, Dr. Jennifer Ong, to the mix. “With Walmart, here’s an area where we desperately need jobs because you have people who are unemployed and what does Quirk do? He doesn’t do what’s best for the community and Jennifer Ong goes along with it, as well. It shows these people are completely out of touch with the community.”

“She wants to help the community? She would have helped them a lot more if we had Walmart to hire people in this community. What is Jennifer going to do when she’s in Sacramento? Give them all potted plants and oven mitts? What’s Mark Green going to do? Get a second job if it doesn’t work out?”

For a man raised without some of the creature comforts many of his constituents take for granted everyday, he has without a doubt, lived a life through a lens most Republicans choose to ignore. Whereas, the national party has sought to marginalize people, many Republicans could probably take a lesson from Reynoso, especially if they ever hope to attract the quickly growing Latino vote in America. And his fervor for forcing change really hasn’t changed much since that 8-year-old boy saw visceral change replete with bloody faces and crushed bones in the streets of Guadalajara. “Every time I see a demonstration, even the occupiers, it makes me so proud," he says wistfully. “I almost feel like kissing the ground. Only in America can you do this. Only in America can you protest without getting shot. I may not agree with what you're protesting, but it makes me proud.”

Bonta Also Using Connections To Reap Benefits From Outside Donors

May 31, 2012 | Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta may be well on his way to winning the California primary in the 18th Assembly District, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t laying the early groundwork for the November general election, against either Abel Guillen or Joel Young.

Bonta’s has been on the receiving end of $34,392 in independent expenditures from a group calling itself, the Golden State Leadership Fund PAC. The connection between the two is likely Bonta’s campaign consultant, Duffy & Capitolo, which has been a donor to the PAC in the past.

QUAN’S ENDORSEMENT Abel Guillen greatest accomplishment thus far has been his ability to gain the trust and support of many in Oakland’s progressive community. Its genesis goes back to last fall as brave and idealistic Occupy Oakland protesters converged of Frank Ogawa Plaza and stared down the Oakland PD, Guillen pushed the Peralta Community College District to study moving its assets out of big banks to smaller community institutions.

It must have been a bit disconcerting then, for those supporters to learn Wednesday that Guillen had received the endorsement of the archenemy of their movement, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. This is what makes politics so interesting. Maybe the sliver of Asian Americans supporting Quan that Guillen may attract pushes him into the top two. Conversely, it could also push disillusioned young Occupy voters to say, forget it, I have a some Swiss chard to harvest Tuesday at my community garden.

MORE ATTACKS ON JOEL YOUNG After California Alliance, the consumer attorney and conservationists group that has levied a barrage of harsh attacks on Joel Young in the past few weeks, paid for $24,000 in polling, it may have shown his campaign is not yet entirely done, although, likely on life support. Another expenditure followed, raising the total to over $89,000 from a single special interest group in opposition to his campaign.

Some have questioned who is behind the special interest group and which of Young's opponents they seek to aid. Another clue emerged this week. The California Federation of Teachers contributed $25,000 to California Alliance earlier this month, which was reported May 24. The teachers' union is one of Guillen's biggest supporters.

Nevertheless, the latest negative mailer (shown here) is yet another example of the vitriol Young’s antics on both a personal and public level, have done to torpedo his campaign. It doesn’t get more harsh than this mailer, outside of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove-type mudslinging.

An Internecine Fight Among East Bay Conservatives Over GOP Endorsing Outsiders

May 31, 2012 | Luis Reynoso, the lone GOP candidate in the race for the 20th Assembly District says the Republican Party should not endorse candidates outside of the party, even in races where none exist, like in the local 15th congressional race. “It’s a dangerous precedent,” said Reynoso. “What’s the point of running as a Republican?”

The Hayward school district board member took exception to GOP party faithful in Contra Costa and Alameda County giving support to conservative-leaning independent Chris Pareja in his congressional district against Democrats Rep. Pete Stark and Dublin Councilman Eric Swalwell. Pareja appears on the June ballot as "no party preference."

Reynoso and his campaign manager, former Assemblywoman Audie Bock, tried to block the Alameda County GOP from giving Pareja a letter of support, said Pareja, who was later told Reynoso had previously shown interest in also entering the congressional race.

“I didn’t know until recently that he was told not to run against Pete because he wouldn’t be able to raise enough money to run a credible campaign,” said Pareja. “Personally, I don’t think someone who can be dissuaded by one person or a small group has the confidence or leadership skills required to represent people anyway."

In an interview last week, Reynoso said Pareja’s Tea Party-inspired stance on immigration is a non-starter for Republicans hoping to win office in a blue district like those in the Bay Area. “I’m not going to support that,” Reynoso said, who was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and came to Bay Area as an 11-year-old. “This nation was founded by immigrants. We can’t take [Chris’] approach. That’s punitive.”

Instead, Reynoso advocates for a clear path to citizenship and working with host countries to facilitate a flow of workers and commerce. “They come here for jobs, not to break laws,” he said.

MORE IEC MONEY FLOWS TO ONG Dr. Jennifer Ong has already benefited from over $172,000 in independent expenditure committee money through Memorial Day. On Tuesday, came another $48,783 from two of the three groups that previous spent money in support of her campaign for the 20th Assembly District. The total now stands at nearly $230,000. She could buy an entire nursery for that kind of cash.

Kucinich To Rally For Stark in Dublin This Weekend

May 31, 2012 | With just days before voters in the new 15th congressional district head to the polls, Rep. Pete Stark is attempting to churn out the progressive vote with help from one of the few members of the House possibly more liberal than he is.

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich is heading to Dublin this Sunday to rally the troops manning the phones at the local IBEW union hall in support of Stark against his upstart Democratic challenger Eric Swalwell and conservative-leaning Chris Pareja.

Kucinich’s help comes with more than a bit of irony. The long-time congressman lost the Ohio primary last March after redistricting pit him against fellow Democrat, Rep. Marcy Kaptur. The scenario is somewhat similar to the situation in California’s 15th where redistricting tacked a large number of voters from the Tri Valley area into Stark’s district.

The redrawn district is believed to be less liberal than two years ago when Stark garnered 75 percent of the vote. The state’s new top two primary system is also a great unknown in this race that may pit two Dems against each other.

HAGGERTY BACKS SWALWELL If Kucinich’s arrival only proves Stark’s progressive colors are dyed-in-the-wool, Swalwell’s ideology is still less than certain. If hobnobbing with law enforcement, kowtowing to wealthy Chinese land barons and hawkish foreign policy rhetoric backing Israel and drone attacks doesn’t make you question just how liberal Swalwell may actually be, he gained the endorsement this week of the East Bay’s last great Republican.

Alameda County District 1 Supervisor Scott Haggerty, just a few years ago, wore an “R” on his lapel until he switched allegiances to the Democratic Party. It makes sense for Swalwell, who is gambling, once he is branded a Blue Dog Democrat, it will not hurt his chances with more liberal voters in the western half of the district.

It’s a good endorsement for Swalwell to get, but most insiders still remember the Republican Haggerty and snicker when talking about the born-again Democrat Haggerty. The same can be said for another Swalwell backer, San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy, another closeted Republican, who privately poses in Nancy Reagan’s famous bright red dresses. Cassidy’s endorsement is even more peculiar since San Leandro isn’t even in the 15th District any longer.

STARK IS A CHICKEN AND A DUCK? A common subject broached by local political consultants is whether Swalwell’s young and inexperienced campaign team has the talent and know how to run a grueling congressional campaign. Running for Congress is undoubtedly the big leagues. Although Stark has looked more like the wild-throwing Charlie Sheen character in “Major League,” the 80-year-old House vet can still throw very hard political pitches (you just don't know if they will be down the middle or over the backstop).

Although, Swalwell has done remarkably well solely on Stark’s unforced errors, there is still some question whether it will be Swalwell, if he advances to the November general election, who may be the candidate who creates his own missteps down the stretch. Maybe he gave a preview last week of what is to come? Watch the video below and judge for yourself:

STARK'S FIGHT AGAINST DEMENTIA Sometimes you can't make this stuff up. Rep. Pete Stark's political team in Washington sent a press release Wednesday thanking Medicare and Medicaid for limiting the use of antipsychotic medicines for seniors suffering from dementia and living in nursing homes. "I've long been concerned that these patients are being give antipsychotics unnecessarily and I'm pleased that CMS has charted a path forward...," Stark said.

Ok, we're not going to go there, because Stark's recent comments in his re-election campaign are not the mutterings of a man with dementia. I know, because, just as a lark, I asked a few people who work in health care about their opinions on the subject. They all unequivocally said, no. People make mistakes and everybody is forgetful sometimes.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Opponent Says Post On Cannabis Web Site By Supervisor Miley's Aide Smacks Of Racism

Nate Miley and Bob Swanson
May 30, 2012 | Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley’s opponent in next week’s June primary is angry over a posting on a pro-cannabis Web site by one of Miley’s long-time aides, saying they say smacks of racism and insinuate  the challenger is something other than American.

Bob Swanson, who is often Miley’s point man on medical cannabis issues in Alameda County’s unincorporated areas, posted a plea for donations to Miley’s re-election campaign on a site called, SaveCannabis.org. The call included an assertion that Miley’s challenger for supervisor this June, Tojo Thomas, an Alameda County probation officer, is unfriendly to the pot movement.

In the posting, dated April 27, Swanson says he does not want to lose his job if Miley is defeated and fears Thomas, who is an Indian American, may possess deep-pocketed contacts among “Silicon Valley Indian engineers." Also included is a odd non sequitur referring to Thomas’ affinity for playing cricket.
Hi Folks, 
Nate Miley has a challenger for his District 4 seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. His name is Tojo Thomas and he is a cop. I suspect that he is not going to be very good on marijuana issues.

Nate needs to refill his war chest now, because the election is June 5th. Tojo is from South India and I am concerned that he has connections to rich "Silicon Valley" Indian engineers. He is captain of a cricket team. Nearly all the rich "Silicon Valley" Indian engineers play cricket and want to see their fellow countryman in elected office. I may be a little paranoid but then of course

I am an MMJ patient and I work for Nate. I don't want to lose my job. As you all know Nate is EXCELLENT on the issue that interests all of us. He does not need a fund raiser, he just needs funds. Please! contribute as much as you can, soon now!  
Nate needs all of our help. Download the attached remit form and fill it out. Send the remit form and the check to the address on the remit form. 
Thanks very much,
Bob Swanson
Tony Thomas, the brother of Tojo, took umbrage over Swanson’s assertions in an email last week to Swanson. “This is clearly insulting,” wrote Tony Thomas. “Tojo is a United States citizen who is of Indian descent. You are insinuating that somehow he is not an American because he plays cricket and he is of Indian descent. He loves his community and wants to represent everyone in District 4, Alameda County in the finest manner possible with integrity and responsibility to all.

“As you yourself said, you are clearly paranoid. You have misrepresented my brother, his values, and all that he represents. You have tried to mislead the citizens of District 4 through your rambling, made demeaning assumptions about Tojo, and insulted him on behalf of Mr. Miley.”

Miley said last week, he knew nothing of the posting, but admitted the posting sounded like Swanson, yet he can’t control what others do on their own time. “He’s doing this on his own volition,” Miley said. “He doesn’t need to get my permission.”

The supervisor’s support for cannabis in the unincorporated areas of the county has been clear, however, without being anymore greater than the wishes of many in the county who support medical cannabis and, to some extent, dispensaries. Eyebrows, though, were raised on two separate occasions this campaign season when Thomas referred to a $10,000 campaign donation by a dispensary in Miley’s district. To which, Miley replied that he would take money from anybody, but doing so would not affect his vote, he later added.

Unknown To Many, Judicial Candidate Tara Flanagan Was Once Joel Young's Attorney

May 30, 2012 | In September 2011, I called 18th Assembly candidate Joel Young to talk about, at the time, a little-known domestic violence allegation filed by an ex-girlfriend in March of that year. Young said he couldn’t comment on advice from his lawyer. But, because everybody in local politics is within a few degrees of separation from each other, it is not surprising that Young’s attorney was Tara Flanagan—the same Tara Flanagan running for Alameda County Superior Court judge next week rebranded as a fighter of domestic violence and anointed star of the LGBT community.

Transcripts of Young’s domestic violence case reveal not only conflicting narratives of a women’s advocate representing a man who alleged struck his girlfriend in the face so viciously that an emergency room nurse initially believed she had sustained a broken orbital bone, but also of a gruff and unruly lawyer who refused to obey judge’s orders just a year ago. Flanagan’s involvement in Young’s case last year and his support for his candidacy is not known among many of her supporters until now, nor is it very well understood. Why would a attorney set to run for a well-sought after spot on the bench represent a politician running for state office rapidly gaining political baggage at a break neck press, not to mention the detestable allegation of striking a woman nearly half his size? Flanagan's campaign Web site even trumpets her awarding of "Outstanding Domestic Violence Prosecutor." At a candidate’s forum in Hayward in April, Flanagan said her involvement as Young’s attorney does not merit support for the person or the issue, she was just practicing law. “People don’t understand that,” she added.

However, Flanagan’s involvement in attempting to cleanse Young’s tarnished reputation after litigation piled up in May 2011, ultimately became more than that of a client and attorney. Sometime last summer, female acolytes of Young, mostly from Oakland’s African American community, cobbled together a group of over 50 women to help Young’s now faltering campaign for the Assembly. Led by Oakland Councilwoman Desley Brooks, they called themselves “Women for Joel.” On that list of community leaders and public officials was Flanagan. Her name also pops up on Young’s infamous list of campaign endorsers, albeit, willingly, in this case.

In court transcripts from Young’s hearings to block his ex from obtaining a restraining order against him, Flanagan exhibited a bulldog demeanor towards the accuser and showed odd disdain for Alameda’s Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobsen’s authority in the court room. Solidly built with a sturdy head, Flanagan, at one point refused to approach the bench after the judge summoned her audience with the opposing attorney. Jacobsen then questioned Flanagan’s line of disparaging remarks against Young’s accuser. Just as difficult it was to call Flanagan to the bench, it was far more difficult for Jacobsen to rid her from his presence. In the middle of a packed courtroom, in attendance for a murder trial scheduled to follow Young’s hearing that day, Flanagan became unruly in open court. The ruckus was so great that Jacobsen instructed a bailiff to escort Flanagan from the court room. Flanagan loudly protested saying she had a right to be in the court room and it was open to the public.

At Young’s next hearing, Jacobsen unleashed a long rant chastising Flanagan for her past behavior. The fallout from the spectacle ran a collision course with Flanagan’s prospects of running for judge. Soon, thereafter, Flanagan switched from imposing stares of a mountain lion into a perfectly purring pussy cat in short time. She apologized profusely to Jacobsen in court and proceeded to take hold, once again, of her signature issue defending battered women. Flanagan spoke at numerous events on the subject in the time since representing Young, but aside from some in the law community, very few known about Flanagan’s unsavory link to Young. To the political establishment, it’s just water under the bridge. Over the past few month’s hundreds of signs dot the East Bay touting Tara Flanagan for county judge—the pick of the Democratic Party.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Board Of Supervisors Interview District 2 Candidates As Steele Withdraws Name

May 29, 2012 | And then there were four candidates remaining to replace former Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer after her predecessor Gail Steele withdrew her name for consideration, according to County Administrator Susan Muranishi.

No reason was given, but comments made by some board members in the past week more than hinted they may be more inclined to appoint a successor who could compete in the November election and specifically against the potential candidacy of Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi.

Union City Mayor Mark Green, Former Union City Councilman Richard Valle, Newark Councilwoman Ana Apodaca and community organizer Sheryl Grant each faced roughly 45 minutes of questions from the remaining supervisors involving their top priorities and the future of the county's quickly dwindling number of sports franchises. The appointment, scheduled to be made June 5, will last just five months and run concurrently with a November general election campaign to serve the remaining two years of Lockyer's first four-year term. Lockyer resigned April 20 amid a growing drug and sex scandal.

Green, who is also a candidate next week for the Assembly's 20th District, was his typical avuncular self, joking about drafting Kobe Bryant after ping pong balls in a hopper gave him the right to be interviewed first. When Supervisor Nate Miley pointedly ask Green if he is "office shopping" by applying for the appointment while running in a tight race for the assembly, he said no. "My office in Union City has a better view."

Green's familiarity with running for the seat ( he lost the June primary to Lockyer in 2010) and working on a regional and county level with the four supervisor is a strength. In fact, Green's credentials as the head of several regional boards make him the most qualified person for the seat, yet his dalliances with both high-profile public offices may make it difficult for the board to appoint him, especially with indications they seek someone viable in November. "You put us in a dilemma," Miley said.

Green said, if he advances to the general election in his assembly race next week, he will run for that office and not county supervisor. That scenario would bring the board's discussion over a November race without an incumbent full circle, Green said. In the meantime, he told the board he would focus on the county's bulging $88 million funding gap, bringing a much-lauded experimental firehouse health care clinic to Union City and would continue to campaign for the county's transportation tax measure, tentatively referred to as Measure B3.

Richard Valle, Green's long-time colleague on the Union City City Council made his first appearance before the board with a compelling and cerebral case for his appointment. In just three-and-a half minutes, Valle described a quixotic rise as a boy from a segregated school in Texas to traveling to California, serving in the Vietnam War and helping found Tri-Ced, the state's largest non-profit community recycling center.

Without mentioning the Warriors, who announced their intention to build an arena across the bay, Valle said his first priority would be keeping the Raiders and Athletics in Oakland. "There is a sense of pride when you have those types of franchises," said Valle, but when asked by Supervisor Wilma Chan if he would advocate using public money to build new facilities, he said no. Valle said he also focus on county health care services. However, Chan ask him about his eight years on the St. Rose Hospital Board of Directors. During the time, the Hayward private hospital fell on hard times and was recently propped up by the county. "I take full responsibility for the current situation at St. Rose," he said, but offered, the same scenario is occurring to hospitals everywhere.

Valle's support in District 2, which includes Hayward, Union City, Newark and half of Fremont, was evident Tuesday afternoon. A vast majority of the public speakers lauded Valle for his work in the community. Many of the same people spoke three weeks ago in favor of an open interview process while advocating for the appointment of a Latino.

Apodaca, the only candidate to have received a unanimous vote last week among the supervisors, also received support among public speakers. Moving forward with the St. Rose joint powers agreement with the Washington Health Care District, readying the county for realignment and dealing with budget cuts would be her top priorities, Apodaca said. She believes many in the county feel she is a known quality they can work with, while also raising a common complaint among residents in south county. "Newark and Fremont often feel disengaged from the county," she said. "We have two supervisors and we only go to one." She added the late Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman often referred to her as the city's sixth council member because of her close to ties to Fremont from nearby Newark.

As a noted Raiders fan, Apodaca said she would attempt to keep the county's sports teams in the area, but realizes they are no different than any other businesses. "I'm out there with the fans and have a great time," Apodaca said. "At the same time, it's a business and you understand they want nicer places to play."

The fourth candidate, community organizer Sheryl Grant, was at times out of her league with the other far more experience public servants. However, she was the only person to touch upon the turmoil that has followed the Lockyer scandal in District 2 "It's really important that we rebuild the faith in the district," Grant said. As opposed to the other applicants, Grant was far less specific on many issues. For her top priorities, she offered a catchphrase of "restore, rebuild, recognize."

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pre-Primary Fundraising Totals Show Local Candidates On Spending Sprees

Abel Guillen has spent $221,000 in
AD18 this year, but only $46,000 left.
May 28, 2012 | With pre-primary campaign fundraising totals finalized last week, the local numbers show a definitive and expected trend. After spending months amassing large war chests, candidates in all local races are spending at a brisk pace.

CONGRESS 15 In the 15th congressional District, Rep. Pete Stark heads into the June 5 primary maintaining a huge advantage in cash in hand over whomever his general election opponent turns out to be. While Stark and Eric Swalwell both raised around $50,000 in the period between April 1 and May 16, Stark outspent his upstart Democratic challenger, $125,585 to $97,013.

Of particular worry for Swalwell is his paltry $51,177 in remaining cash. If Swalwell snags a place in the top two, his chances for a major upset in November may rest on how close he can get to Stark on June 5. Stark currently has nine times as much fundraising to draw upon than Swalwell going forward. Swalwell needs something akin to a shocker on primary night to begin cajoling big money Democrats to start placing bets with him and not Stark. In addition, he also must stave off the inclination many big-money donors might have about giving to Ro Khanna and Ellen Corbett, two potential candidates eyeing the seat in 2014.

SWALWELL..$54,879..$ 97,013..$ 51,177
PAREJA....$ 4,341..$  3,807..$    598

Rep. Barbara Lee
CONGRESS 13 Rep. Barbara Lee's re-election campaign in the 13th congressional district, which now welcomes San Leandro under her representation, looks quite a bit like the group of tomato cans Stark once faced in seemingly every race since 1980. In fact, challenger Justin Jelincic faced Stark in the 2010 Democratic primary and was easily defeated.

Lee spent nearly as much as the $54,399 she raised since April 1 and sits with $103,096 cash in hand. The only news here is her campaign war chest could use some replenishment, the same way your reliable automobile needs a standard oil change once in a while.

LEE.......$54,399..$ 43,005..$103,096
JELINCIC..$    25..$    333..$    201
SINGLETON.........NO REPORT..........

ASSEMBLY 18 The campaign in the 18th Assembly District is one of the most competitive three-person races in the state and the high level of campaign fundraising from all its candidates continues to be consistent. At each marker, Rob Bonta has led the pack. With a week to go, Alameda's vice mayor leads in contributions since March 17 with $84,835 and cash in hand with $143,620. If Bonta wins the June primary, as many believe, his sizable war chest gives him a distinct early advantage, especially if his opponent is Abel Guillen.

The Peralth Community College trustee spent $177,516 over the past two months--easily the highest outlay in the group. If Guillen's heavy spending should pay off in edging out Joel Young for second place, he will initially pay the price by trailing Bonta by over $100,000. Guillen's considerable union support should ultimately even the playing field by November. However, Bonta also has significant union support to draw upon.

GUILLEN...$72,904..$177,516..$221,655..$ 46,732
WEBER.............NO REPORT....................

Bill Quirk
ASSEMBLY 20 Like Guillen in the 18th Assembly District, Dr. Jennifer Ong is putting the pedal to the metal now in hopes of finishing second to Bill Quirk in the June primary. To accomplish that, Ong has spent $228,835 this year alone, along with another $172,000 in independent expenditures in the past month. If she succeeds, her cash in hand will have taken a huge hit with Quirk sitting on almost five times more money than Ong's $21,044.

Independent Mark Green, who is also in the running for an appointment to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, brought in $29,466 over the past two months--his best haul to date, but his viability, should he advance to the general election, would be even more doubtful than Ong. Green has just $8,323 in cash going forward and as a former Democrat no definitive funding source to draw from.

ONG......$ 41,431..$109,813..$228,835..$ 21,044
GREEN....$ 29,446..$ 38,940..$ 62,654..$  8,323
REYNOSO...........NO REPORT....................
CHEEMA............NO REPORT....................

STATE SENATE 9 After Assemblyman Sandre Swanson backed down from thoughts of challenging State Sen. Loni Hancock, the race in the 9th senate district and fundraising became nothing more than window-dressing. Hancock's tidy $236,162 war chest gives her some nice options after she is termed out in 2016. In the meantime, like Rep. Barbara Lee, Hancock will inherit San Leandro.

HANCOCK..$ 30,090..$ 50,307..$120,352..$236,162

Outside Groups Have Spent Over $172,000 Recently To Get Ong In The Top Two

May 28, 2012 | While independent expenditure committees throw loads of vitriol against Joel Young in the nearby 18th Assembly District, others hoping to shape the race in the 20th District are sending lucrative love letters to Dr. Jennifer Ong in the form of hefty spending for her candidacy.

Three special interests groups with ties to health care and specifically, optometric political actions committees, have spent over $172,000 in recent weeks to support Ong's hard, late push to snag a spot in the November general election against the likely winner, Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk.

Whether it's being used to buy pot holders or potted plants, on her own, Ong has spent $228,835 of her own campaign fundraising since the beginning of the year, according to the state secretary of state. The total represents one of he largest campaign expenditures of any race in the state. Just under half of the total alone has been spent in the past two months.

Ong, an optometrist who owns a practice in Alameda, has been the benefactor of some of the same doctor's groups who once backed Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, herself, a former nurse and health care advocate. In fact, before Hayashi switched from making laws to breaking them, the belief in the newly-drawn 20th Assembly District, was the eventually termed out Hayashi would have put considerable backing behind Ong's candidacy. Despite Hayashi now being political kryptonite, groups with uber-long names have picked up the slack.

Doctors of Optometry for Better Health Care, sponsored by the California Optometric Association PAC have spent $79,423 in support of Ong. Californians Allied for Patient Protection Independent Expenditure Account spent $71,225 on her behalf and a group called, Cooperative of American Physicians spent $21,619. By a rule of thumb, a standard-sized mailer typically costs around $20,000 and explains why Ong's campaign is making sure you know about her mother selling hot dogs at the Oakland Coliseum and why your hot pot of baked beans this Memorial weekend is sitting atop an Ong for Assembly pot holder.

Independent Expenditure Committee Swoops In With Bundles Of Cash To Defeat Young

May 28, 2012 | Voters in Oakland and its neighbors in the 18th Assembly District has been inundated in recent weeks with uncommonly negative campaign mailers against candidate Joel Young, but who is paying for these pieces and who may they be secretly attempting to help another candidate in the final throes of the June primary?

California Alliance, a state independent expenditure committee, that further describes itself as "a coalition of consumer attorneys and conservationists" is behind the successive mailers aiming to tell voters of Young's recent bad behavior. With the gavel of justice slamming down, as depicted in one potent mailer, it simply reads, "Joel Young. Two restraining orders. In just the last year."

Little is known about the group, which lists its mailing address in Southern California, but it is clear they believe a large outpouring of unrelegated cash will make a huge difference in the 18th Assembly District. California Alliance's expenditures in opposition to Young, currently (as of May 25) at $72, 663, is the seventh largest outlay of outside money against any candidate by one group in the entire state this primary season. These committees cannot coordinate with candidates, but, they invariably share a common interest and political goal.

Although, it cannot be proved for certain, most local political observers believe the barrage of negative mailers against Young is intended to support his opponent, Abel Guillen. In tandem, there is a growing sense of inevitability over Rob Bonta's ability to finish first in next week's June, leaving the race for second between Young and Guillen. By many indications, primarily the lack of tough campaigning rhetoric by Young and Guillen against Bonta, gives clues to the current pecking order going into next week's primary.

Independent Expenditure Committee tend to seek the biggest bang for the bucks and mostly pour money into races where they believe they can tip the balances to their preferred candidate. Despite ample reasons for voters to bypass Young, he still is perceived to maintain an advantage among Oaklanders, in general, and more specifically, black voters.

When it comes to whom the group supports, it is clearly Guillen. But for more proof, just look at which labor union has given money to California Alliance in the past. When it comes to playing hardball politics, nobody in this state beats the California Nurses Association. The labor union has supported the committee in the past and endorsed Guillen last year in this race. It also contributed $7,800 to Guillen's campaign--the legal limit for this primary season.

The vociferousness of outside groups hoping to defeat Young is not surprising. One consultant based in Sacramento said news of Young being stripped of the SEIU's all-important endorsement last Februrary raised many eyebrows among labor leaders in the capitol and indicated doubt that he could be trusted. In fact, the allegations of domestic violence last year against Young paled in comparison, they said, to the grave misstep of betraying his union brothers and sisters. Presently, the fruits of that betrayal is manifesting in your mailbox.

Clever Campaigning, Shifty Shenanigans Mark The Stretch Run To June Primary

May 28, 2012 | For politicians, these are not times for the faint of heart. In fact, the pressure is high, nerves are fraying and while some campaigns are deep into readying well-honed strategies, others are looking to gain every advantage possible as political equations shift and unforeseen developments arise and for others anything is fair game.

Races in the East Bay's 18th and 20th Assembly District's and Hayward's contentious City Council campaign are all too close to call and candidates are leaving nothing to chance, while the race for the 15th congressional district may be more about the the incumbents margin of victory than which candidate finishes win, place or show.

Dr. Jennifer Ong's retro-style campaigning in the 20th Assembly District has received wide attention among not only voters, but also her opponents. Voters in the district began receiving pot holders in the mail emblazoned with Ong's campaign logo last week in tandem with a mailer describing her mother's working class background selling hot dogs at the Oakland Coliseum. "I'm tired of hearing about her mother selling hot dogs," exclaimed Hayward school board member Luis Reynoso, Ong's Republican opponent for the Assembly.

Ong has also supplied potential voters with small ornamental grass plants, which set off a frenzy last week outside a church in Fremont. Ong's late hard charge has been bankrolled with over $50,000 in independent expenditures over the past two weeks, primarily from health care special interest groups. While most believe Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk will likely finish first in the June primary, Ong's not only has designs on second place, but aiming at tweaking her opponent. In a bit of political theater last Tuesday, Ong spoke out during public comment at the Hayward City Council meeting against a proposed Walmart in the city at the same time addressing her main opponent Quirk. Although, Quirk voted to uphold the planning commission's decision blocking Walmart, Ong's remarks appeared more vociferous than his and may have stole his thunder on his home turf.

The same type of aggressiveness has been absent in the neighboring 18th Assembly District until the past two weeks. Despite growing knowledge of Joel Young's boorish behavior starting with allegations of domestic violence early last year, the subject have never come close to being broached during the campaign, until a biting mailer arrived in mailboxes last week. A Southern California special interest group, hoping to capitalize on Young's extreme negatives, pointedly described his former girlfriend's allegations, another incident with an Oakland council staff member and the revoking of a major labor union's endorsement earlier this year.

Hayward's toss-up at-large City Council race may became an extremely dirty political race down the stretch. Three incumbents are running with six other candidates for four open seats. Ralph Farias, Jr., one of the most colorful candidates in the East Bay was called out in public Tuesday night by Jesus Armas, the city's former city manager and current school board member, who charged him with pasting his campaign signs on placards supporting the school parcel tax, Measure G. Farias has been vocal about voting down the tax measure. When Armas revealed a photo of the signs before the City Council and viewers watching at home, Farias heckled Armas to keep the picture in focus. Afterwards, Farias would not admit to defacing the Measure G signs, but owned up to his long-running feud with Armas.

Conservative-leaning Chris Pareja may not have much campaign fundraising to draw from so he's going big with what little he has. Drivers on the always congested Interstate 880 near Winton Avenue will have seen what Pareja calls the "largest lawn sign" in the district. Peering down from the 27 by 15 feet video board at Southland Mall is Pareja's visage and Web site, PeteStarkMustGo.com, which either means Stark must not return to congress next year ,or, possibly, a site that alerts constituents to when the 80-year-old congressman needs to use the restroom. Either way, Stark should win the June 5 primary, but the major unknown is by how much? If Swalwell and Pareja can limit Stark to under 50 percent, then the entire November general election in the 15th will became a full-fledged toss-up with national implications.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Young's Pattern Of Dishonesty Now Includes Mistaking San Leandro For Sacramento?

May 24, 2012 | Add a poor sense of geography or downright lying to Joel Young's list of transgressions this campaign season. The candidate for the 18th Assembly District is in hot water again about the issue of his honesty and integrity over his whereabouts before a debate last month.

After Young arrived 20 minutes late for candidates forum April 12 in Oakland hosted by the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association (APAPA) and several other influential local Asian community members, he apologized to the group saying, "Pardon me for being late. I was coming from Sacramento."

Except Young was not en route from Sacramento, but, instead, traveling from a kickoff fundraiser in nearby San Leandro for Alameda County Board of Education candidate Aisha Knowles. Numerous attendees tell The Citizen, they saw Young hobnobbing with other Knowles supporters at the event starting at 6 p.m. The APAPA candidate's forum began at 7 p.m. sharp. One attendee of the fundraiser said they even witnessed Young chatting with Knowles.

Mark Goodwin, Young's campaign manager, maintains the candidate was in Sacramento that day for a meeting with the Legislative Black Caucus and says Young twice called him from his car just minutes before arriving at the forum held during a stormy night in Oakland's Chinatown.

APAPA chose to not comment on the matter and say they are non-partisan and do not endorse candidates for office.

It is still not clear why Young chose to obfuscate about the reason for being late, but it continues to fit into a pattern of half-truths and outright muddling of the truth by an Assembly candidate, most political observers say should have had no trouble finishing in the top two in the June primary. Instead, he may be scrambling over the next 10 days to overtake Abel Guillen for a spot in the November general election.

Young's proclivity for trolling support at another person's fundraiser is not new. The crashing of fundraisers by Young is a common complaint among East Bay political observers. Carolyn Russell-Thomas, the executive director of an Oakland domestic violence agency that Young falsely said endorsed his candidacy, said in an interview last month, that her first encounter with Young occurred unannounced at one of her events last October. She said others had told her later that "this was something he did."

Young's habit of favoring opportunities to scrounge for drying up fundraising sources over attending debates featuring his two opponents still continues. Voters in San Leandro expecting to hear from Young at a debate May 16 hosted by many of the city's most influential homeowners associations, showed up, instead, to listen to vagaries of his campaign manager. Young had a previous engagement, said Goodwin. "We only found out about it on Monday." A representative for one of the homeowners association, seeking to set the record straight said, the groups had unsuccessfully tried to contact Young's campaign through its Web site for over a month. They were only successful two days prior to the event at the Bal Theatre. San Leandro is new to the 18th District that now also represents Oakland and Alameda.

Nonetheless, the San Leandro debate was not the first time Young has missed an opportunity to be sized up voters in such a setting. His absence has been so frequent that one of his opponents last week doubted Young would bother joining them for the race's final debate May 30 in Oakland.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Walmart Rebuffed By Hayward For A Second Time As Blame Is Heaped On Henson

May 23, 2012 | For the second time in as many months, Hayward city leaders have denied an out-of-state property owner a conditional use permit to lease the vacant Circuit City building on Whipple Road for a scaled-down Walmart grocery store. The Hayward City Council voted narrowly, 4-3, in favor of upholding the planning commission's, 4-3, decision last April 5.

Although the decision at hand focused on whether the proposed grocery store constituted a "regional or sub-regional" use. The appellant before the planning commission last month also questioned whether the increased traffic and pollution at the proposed site also warranted a environmental review. However, the tenor of the over five-hour council meeting centered directly on the hot-button issue of Walmart, even though it was revealed during the hearing that the retail behemoth no longer had interest in the property.

Daniel Temkin, part of the family that owns the 5.14-acre site at 2480 Whipple Road, told the council Walmart had recently rescinded interest in moving into the old Circuit City building. "Why are we here?" asked Councilman Marvin Peixoto. Temkin said he was confident Walmart could be lured back to the site, if he was granted the conditional use permit Tuesday night.

Similar to the April 5 planning hearing, some council members continued to be hamstrung by the exact definition of regional and sub-regional use. Councilman Olden Henson, in particular, voiced displeasure over handing down a decision without a clear city definition on both terms. Several planning commissioners made the same assertion last month, yet city staff did not produce a new definition.

Councilman Bill Quirk, who is also a front runner for 20th Assembly District seat, said despite city staff's recommendation to overturn the planning commission's determination, he told the city's developmental services director, "I think you're wrong on this" and the commission got it right.

Along with Quirk, Mayor Michael Sweeney voted with the majority as did Peixoto and Henson. "Regional, to me, was Circuit City," said Peixoto, "People came to the city to buy things. A grocery store is a neighborhood business. Why then would people in Southgate be complaining about not having a supermarket?" he said.

The issue of Walmart has become one of the biggest campaign issues of this year's City Council race. Three sitting members are up for re-election this June. Another council candidate, Planning Commissioner Al Mendall, has also faced scrutiny from the local Chamber of Commerce for his vote against Temkin and Walmart last month.

Councilwoman Barbara Halliday, also up for re-election, called the ruling, "the hardest decision we have faced in quite awhile." Nevertheless, she voted in favor of overturning the decision based upon land-use regulations, but said you won't catch her shopping at Walmart anytime soon. "I don't particularly like a Walmart in our city," she said. "I will not be shopping there my myself. However, this is not about the store, but about land-use." Instead, Halliday said the city does not have the right to dictate other's choice and must begin luring more businesses to Hayward. "What we need to do is fill empty buildings."

Councilman Francisco Zermeno, another on the ballot June 5, agreed. "I would rather we fill a spot at a time," he said. Despite brandishing deep union ties, Councilman Mark Salinas ascribed to a similar rationale for the need to start attracting new business. In an impassioned speech, Salinas, the 42-year-old Hayward born and raised council member said, many buildings in the city have been vacant as long as he's been alive.

The vote Tuesday night may have had no bigger ramification for the June election, than the decision to uphold by Henson. According to onlookers with ties to the Hayward business community, Henson's vote appeared unknown going into the meeting. A few members of the Chamber of Commerce in the audience were visibly livid as Henson's remarks began to give clues he would vote to uphold the decision. A former president of the chamber, within earshot, jumped from his seat and muttered, "You're done," as Henson spoke from the dais.

The pressure to allow Walmart to set up shop in Hayward has been steadily rising in recent weeks concurrently with the final days of the City Council campaign. Henson seemed to allude to the arm-twisting in remarks late Tuesday night. "I think it's absurd for anybody to say we're anti-business," said Henson. "Some of the people who say that have made a lot of money from the decisions I have made."

In an email, Wednesday morning, Temkin also pegged the denial of Walmart and a previously proposed Sam's Club on Henson. "In fact, Henson cast the deciding vote in both instances. The site of the proposed Sam's Club was soon after approved for a Target Store. It sits across Whipple Road from our shopping center. So, now the legacy of Mr. Henson will be that he killed two Walmart deals for his city," wrote Temkin.

As the conclusion of the meeting inched into the early morning hours, a still visibly agitated Henson, maintained his vote to uphold the planning commission's decision was not anti-commerce. By asking staff for clarification on the "regional/sub-regional" definition, he said, it would allow the property owner Temkin a "clean slate" to reapply in the future.

Some observers believe Henson's name recognition and long-time service will earn him another four years, but after Tuesday's vote, the chamber's long knives may be out for him June 5. However, Henson was sacrosanct as he left City Hall. "I may be done, but I did the right thing."

Nadia Lockyer's Ex Asks: Where's The Restraining Order?

May 23, 2012 | Less than two weeks ago, the Bay Area News Group published an article detailing former Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer's temporary restraining order against ex-lover Steve Chikhani. The date of the scheduled hearing is May 24 in Pleasanton, but Chikhani says he will not attend because on the eve of the court hearing he has yet to be served with the reported restraining order.

"I'm not going to show up," Chikhani told The Citizen. "There's not reason to." Chikhani and his attorney say they expected to be served during a scheduled court hearing last Thursday in Santa Clara County regarding a separate legal manner, but the summons never arrived. Instead, he believes the timing of the restraining order by Lockyer was meant to blunt potential damage his comments about the affair with Lockyer and drug use might cause. He says the Bay Area News Group reporter may have tipped off the Lockyer's when asking for their comment after his reported four hour interview earlier the week.

Indeed, the resulting article pushed Chikhani's version of some events with the former supervisor, who resigned from the fallout last April 20, from the lede in place of the restraining order angle. In the document filed in court, Lockyer charged Chikhani with repeatedly calling the Lockyer home, texting her young child, threatening to call Child Protective Services and enlisting a person named, "Tiny" to rape and kill her.

"Everything they're putting in the paper is totally false," said Chikhani, while adding, "She's making things worse."

UPDATE: The scheduled court hearing Thursday for Nadia Lockyer's restraining order against Steve Chikhani was postponed to June 14, according to a report from the Bay Area News Group. Lockyer's lawyer told the paper they could not locate Chikhani to serve him.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Staff Report Calls For Hayward Council To Overturn Decision On Walmart In City

May 22, 2012 | The issue of Walmart in Hayward and its denial last month by the city's planning commission has proven to be a potent talking point for city council candidates with pro-business leaning.

The heat on three incumbent council members up for re-election in June will get hotter Tuesday night when they discuss overturning the April 5, 4-3, decision to block Walmart from setting up shop at the defunct Circuit City site on Whipple Road.

The city's staff recommends overturning the decision saying the current conditional permit is consistent with opening a grocery store on the property at 2480 Whipple Road. The proposed Walmart is a scaled down 5.14 acre store that will focus primarily on groceries and pharmacy services.

The project would also not be subject to California Environmental Quality Act guidelines, according to a staff report. "There is no reasonable possibility that the proposed grocery store will have a significant effect on the environment," the report said.

Numerous speakers at the April 5 planning commission hearing questioned whether increased traffic at the notoriously congested nearby road and additional deliveries would cause a higher incidence of pollution.

The planning commission's determination was appealed April 16 by a resident at nearby Spanish Ranch I mobile home park, among others, and the property's owner, Daniel Temkin.

The deciding vote for the planning commission's 4-3 decision blocking Temkin from leasing his property to Walmart came from Hayward city council candidate Al Mendall, who many believe is one of the front runners to win a seat on the council on June 5.

Current members Francisco Zermeno, Barbara Halliday and Olden Henson are also up for re-election. Those three now find themselves in the ineviable position of making a high-profile decision involving Walmart--a perennial bogeyman among liberals--less than two weeks before election day.

Supervisors Winnow Field To Replace Lockyer; Apodaca Receives Wide Support

May 22, 2012 | When she entered the Alameda County Administration building Tuesday afternoon, Newark City Councilwoman Ana Apodaca said she was just praying to be picked as a finalist to replace former supervisor Nadia Lockyer.

Apodaca was one of five candidates chosen by the board to be publicly interviewed May 29 and only person receiving a vote from all four remaining supervisors. "My mom was going to light a candle and pray for me," she said afterwards.

Former Union City councilman Richard Valle received three of four votes, while community activist Sheryl Grant received two. Perhaps the two candidates with the most experience—Union City Mayor Mark Green and former supervisor Gail Steele—each received a single vote. In lieu of a second round of voting, the board agreed to accept all candidates who garnered a vote for next week's interviews. The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to pick a successor to replace Lockyer during the June 5 meeting.

Apodaca acknowledged quite a bit of horse trading has already gone down behind closed doors, "but, there’s still more politicking to come.” Numerous Latino and women's group are believed to be heavily lobbying for an appointee from both or either demographics.

The board’s vote Tuesday also revealed tepid support for leveling the playing field in advance of a very contentious race come November in the manner sought by Supervisor Keith Carson, who had advocated for Steele as a placeholder candidate.

Instead, they appear cognizant of the Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi’s reported interest in the seat. “Her presence is a factor,” Supervisor Nate Miley said afterwards. “She has money and she has access to donors.”

“I don’t know if you can have a fair competition if Mary runs,” Miley added. Hayashi’s war chest runs as high as $800,000 and would easily dwarf any of the potential appointees, if they were to seek re-election in the fall. However, Miley said speculation over Hayashi's entrance in the fall campaign for the seat does not weigh heavily in the board's decision to fill the seat.


Monday, May 21, 2012

The Pick To Replace Nadia Lockyer Comes With Hayashi In Mind

May 21, 2012 | When news of Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi’s interest in replacing Nadia Lockyer at the Alameda County Board of Supervisors was leaked, it was interpreted as a method of embarrassing the larcenous legislator, instead, it may have actually been a warning.

On Tuesday, the remaining supervisors will begin the task of picking over the strengths and liabilities of eight applicants—four legitimate, four of who are not much more than window-dressing. Whoever, the board ultimately chooses next month, the process will be all about Mary and likely drive every major storyline for the next six months of the year. Here’s what each applicant’s candidacy might mean come November:

Supervisor Keith Carson has advocated returning former supervisor Gail Steele to the dais as a way of clearing a surely hard-fought campaign season without a candidate possessing the perceived advantage of the incumbency. Ironically, according to many observers of the process, the choice of Steele would be, by far, the most advantageous pick for a future run for supervisor by Hayashi, who is conveniently termed out of her seat in the assembly at the end of the year.

How the hard-nosed Hayashi could still be in the running for the most sought after and comfortable post in Alameda County politics despite a thin legislative record and a well-known shoplifting incident last year, makes little sense to the electorate, but all the sense to the political community. There continues to be a growing feeling the district, outside of political junkies, simply does not know about Hayashi’s past. At worse, they may vaguely recall a politician stealing clothes from Neiman Marcus, but will not be able to consistently link it personally to Hayashi. Even with a substantial campaign war chest sitting in the bank, in some ways, the failing memory of voters and persistent apathy is Hayashi’s most potent weapon.

In the meantime, there will be constant reading of tea leaves and parsing over which way each supervisor will lean in the coming weeks. Aside from Steele, the front runners include former Union City councilman Richard Valle, Newark Councilwoman Ana Apodaca and longtime Union City Mayor Mark Green, who is also an assembly candidate in the 20th District.

Choosing any of these three would signal the board intends to set up a roadblock for Hayashi for November and possibly beyond. One astute East Bay insider believes Hayashi’s reported $800,000 in campaign fundraising represent s a zero-sum game. If the board appoints a legitimate competitor to go up against Hayashi in November it, hurts her in two ways—both entailing she use a significant portion of her war chest to compete. The rationale being that it forces Hayashi to expend precious resources that would be better spent for the seat she really covets in the near future--the House of Representatives.

So, if not Steele, which among Valle, Green and Apodaca poses the biggest threat to Hayashi? Like Green, Valle is also running for another office, in this case, mayor of Union City. Many in the area vouch for Valle’s progressive credentials and point to his near upset a few years back of Steele in District 2. During a Board of Supervisor’s meeting two weeks ago, the overwhelming number of public speakers appeared to be supporting Valle, although none specifically named him. Valle also speaks Spanish which helps him with many groups in the district who want a Latino named to the seat. District 2 represents the highest concentration of Latinos in the county. Valle’s candidacy, though, may be hurt by a perception he is being backed by the Lockyers.

Green’s bold foray into the board of supervisor’s appointment concurrently with a very competitive race for the assembly may complicate his chances. A recent poll showed Green’s chances of advancing in his assembly race to the November general election are very good, yet he may have destabilize his chance for either post with his application last week. Based on his experience leading several regional boards, there is no question Green is easily the most viable candidate for the board of supervisors. However, there is a worry that his volume of experience may actually pose a threat to the egos of some current members, who may not feel comfortable ceding their expertise on certain subjects to an appointee. In terms of facing Hayashi in November and her ravenous reputation for dirty politics, Green could be formidable. As in every race he has ever run, Green is always the most engaging and humorous of the lot. He can also trash talk, too. While Hayashi is harsh, she is also not the sweetest or funniest politician around, by any means.

The most interesting appointee, then, would be Apodaca. The community wants a Latino. Check, Apodaca. There is also word one of the supervisors desires another female colleague on the board. Check, Apodaca. You would also be hard pressed to find someone in the East Bay that has something negative to say about her. The only question for her viability afterwards is she was not able to win her run for mayor of Newark last year. Despite the presence of a discernible old boy’s network still alive in Newark, her defeat, nonetheless, surprised quite a few. Her potential appointment would also fall under the category of “Karma is a bitch.” Apodaca, you see, was chief of staff for former state Sen. Liz Figueroa, the woman who lost out to Nadia Lockyer and Bill Lockyer’s $1.8 million in the 2010 race for supervisor. Apodaca and Figueroa are still very tight.

In a story teeming with lies, betrayal and immorality involving a politician buying a seat for his drug-addled wife, don’t think for a moment Figueroa wouldn't relish sitting in her Half Moon Bay home with a glass of wine knowing her protégé walked away with Nadia’s Lockyer’s old seat on the Board of Supervisors. That’s vindication of the highest order and possibly the only way to end this most emabarrasing and awful period in Alameda County politics.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Young Hayward Product Tries To Revive City With Optimism And Smarts

May 19, 2012 | The Hayward City Council forum started at 5:00 p.m last April 30 at a union hall located on a two block wasteland of shuttered buildings and twisted chain link fences on Mission Boulevard. Peter Bufete, the 22-year-old Hayward-bred political prodigy is 10 minutes late. He slams his car door shut and pats his blue suit to press out residual wrinkles from the brisk car ride. An older woman, parked next to him, is slowly pulling prepackaged muffins out of her trunk. With a kind smile, Bufete, a well-mannered type of young man which older people think all young people should emulate, graciously offers to help with the snacks destined to be consumed by debate goers inside. “Sorry I’m late, but I was helping with the muffins,” he told the crowd upon entering the room to a round of soft laughter and immediately jumped into the debate.

Although young and inexperienced, Bufete’s strong performance of late is forcing some voters to recalculate their thinking about his candidacy. Despite being just a year older than the legal age to purchase alcohol, it is obvious Bufete has the tools to compete. Even the Bay Area News Group, despite knowing shit about what’s going on in Hayward, made special mention of Bufete’s future in an editorial earlier this month. So, maybe he’s NOT like a hot-shot high school pitcher with a Major League fastball in great need of minor league grooming for some time in the future, but as capable as some of the older, “more seasoned” candidates running for one of four open seats on the City Council on June 5.

Take a blind taste test of the nine candidates for Hayward City Council and you would be hard pressed to pick out Bufete’s brand of optimism and fresh ideas as being attached to a political neophyte. The question, though, is whether the city is willing to drop prejudices against youth or even if they realize the depth of the community's tough predicament of high crime and city-wide apathy. In reality, on both cases, Bufete tangible age is really 22 going on 42, while being physically too young to bullshit people and mentally old enough to realize the self-proclaimed "Heart of the Bay" needs a serious transplant.

He is the definition of homegrown. In fact, Bufete could only be more Hayward if he was placed in Mayor Michael Sweeney’s belly through Immaculate Conception, born in a manger at the Hayward Plunge and nursed with fresh brewed Tasmanian Devil beer from Buffalo Bill’s.
It’s easy to begin explaining Bufete with baseball’s analogies—a sport he professes to love while lamenting other people his age seem to eschew the game for other fast-paced sports or more sedentary activities. Put it this way, Hayward can be viewed as a once thriving franchise. A generation ago, it had the power to attract the best money could buy, but no more. The current team, while capable, has no deep roots in Hayward. Bufete, on the other hand, may represent the best the notoriously underperforming Hayward Unified School District can possibly produce. Bufete attended Treeview Elementary, Bret Harte Middle School and was student body president and captain of the Hayward High golf team. Although his rise may be somewhat of an outlier in a school district that ranks near the bottom of schools in the state, or, as one of his city council opponents said, ranked “27 spots from stupid,” He is the definition of homegrown. In fact, Bufete could only be more Hayward if he was placed in Mayor Michael Sweeney’s belly through Immaculate Conception, born in a manger at the Hayward Plunge and nursed with fresh brewed Tasmanian Devil beer from Buffalo Bill’s.

His epiphany occurred upon returning from UC Santa Barbara. After four years and gaining a degree in political science, Bufete found Hayward still wallowing in a lifeless spiral on the cusp on urban decay. It was his mother who first broached the subject of running for city council, he says. “Maybe I can change what’s going on in Hayward. Maybe I do have something to bring to the table.” In an interesting intersection of June primary season politics, Union City Mayor Mark Green, a candidate for the 20th Assembly District, was often Bufete’s substitute teacher at Hayward High. He asked the long-time mayor for advice after announcing his run for council. “If you want to run for office then you have to fully believe in yourself,” Bufete said of Green’s advice. “You have to have the ego that you’re going to do a better job.” Added Bufete, “I’m not going to enter the race just to enter. I really believe that I’m going to do a better job than the people I’m running against.”

Former Hayward city manager and current school board member Jesus Armas has known Bufete since middle school. Bufete and Armas’ son were once best friends and still keep in contact with each other. After Bufete’s first candidate’s forum in front of the Hayward Demos in March, many in the audience raved about the young newcomer’s performance. Armas was particularly beaming when I asked him that night about Bufete; chiefly the candidate’s hardened support for striking Hayward teachers in 2007 as a 16-year-old. “That’s pretty impressive for someone that age to be doing,” Armas said that night.

Always involved in extra-curricular activities at school, Bufete had forged a strong friendship with many of his teachers. He also wrote a semi-regular teen column for the Daily Review at the time. So when he read an opinion piece by a school board member harshly criticizing the striking teachers, Bufete returned the favor with a scathing rebuttal. “I wrote what we were learning from the teachers was something invaluable that you don’t learn in the classroom,” Bufete says today. “It’s demonstration for fighting for what you believe in.” He then organized the student body to support the teachers, while asking for donations to buy snacks and bottled water for picketing instructors.

Not coincidentally, much of Bufete’s list for the ills of Hayward and its path for a comeback is a riff on the city’s dilapidated school system. It’s so much so that a casual observer might conclude he should run for the school board, instead. However, he realizes nothing good will happen in Hayward until the black hole of its poorly-rated schools quits sucking the life and vitality out of it. “When I was in high school, too many kids didn’t believe in themselves,” said Bufete. “They grew up in a system where you’re going to school with these books that are older than your parents. There’s huge class sizes and then college is so expensive that it’s out of the question already even before they’re out of high school. If you already accept that, there’s no way you progress any further in life.”

“My philosophy is we have to continue fixing this problem before we try to fix these other problems,” he says of the state of the schools. “That’s going to fix a lot of the correlative issues. If you fix the schools, you market yourself to a lot of the businesses better. We have good demographics here, but the image we give to everyone is not that good.”

Although, ironically, Bufete has lots of gray poking from the temples of his short-cropped hair, he gets quite a bit of prejudice because of his youth. While campaigning door-to-door, Bufete says he encountered a few potential voters, who appeared to respond well to his message, only to quickly end the conversation and close the door when learning his age. “I’ve had some people say, ‘this young punk kid thinks he’s going to change the world. He’s too optimistic’,” he says, while others have simply told him to pay his dues and come back. “I want to do this now,” he shoots back. “I don’t want to come back in ten years down the line and say, ‘now I’m ready to serve.’ That’s 10 years wasted that we could have made the community better.” He also doesn’t envision a long career in politics. “It wasn’t what I planned on doing,” he says. Instead, he was supposed to take over the family business—a pair of assisted living facilities in Hayward.

At 22, Bufete is an administrator for homes that currently care for 12 elderly residents and splits time living in both and even cooks for them, something he says, he greatly enjoys. “I like making things taste good. It’s like chemistry,” he says. As a prolific Lumpia roller and lover of everything adobo, the confluence of nourishing the elderly and taking care of them is highly prevalent in the Filipino household he grew up in. When an older relative entered the room, as a kid, Bufete would typically offer his hand to their forehead for blessings.

“Your elders are someone to appreciate,” he says. “You wouldn’t be here without them. I had a close relationship with my grandfather. I live with my grandmother in a household where the population’s average age is over 70,” he says with a giggle. “If we stop respecting them, who is going to take care of them? Hopefully people can see from campaign that I’m a very compassionate person. I truly do want to take care of people.”

Last November, the care of older people and the fragility of life came into stark view for Bufete, who also has a side business as a licensed CPR instructor. One early morning, he was awaken to a thump. He found a resident on the ground and attempted to revive them with CPR. The memory is so vivid that he still remembers the exact time and date of the incident. “It’s something you never forget. Someone’s life is literally in your hands.”

Although Bufete was not able to revive the patient, Hayward may not be able to revive itself without someone like Bufete. “We’re falling behind in Hayward. We’ve become content with mediocrity. We need someone to push us and say we are better than this and we can succeed.” He added, “You can’t build on negativity, you only building on the positives. Saying this sucks, that sucks doesn’t help. I want us to solve our own problems and that would send the message that we are capable of changing for the better.”

Friday, May 18, 2012

President Obama Backs Stark For Congress

May 18, 2012 | Rep. Pete Stark's tougher-than-expected primary challenge got a boost from on high Friday. President Barack Obama announced his endorsement of the 40-year congressman in the 15th congressional district.

“Congressman Pete Stark is a tireless champion for all of the 15th’s working families,” said President Obama. “We’ve worked hard these last three years to bring meaningful, positive change to our nation – fighting for good jobs, good schools and a health care system that works for all of our citizens. We have made great strides, but there is much more to do. That is why we need his dedicated efforts back in Congress to continue the fight with me. I need you to cast your vote for Congressman Stark in the June 5 Democratic Congressional Primary.”

The high profile presidential endorsement comes more than two weeks before possibly the biggest primary challenge Stark has faced since becoming an East Bay congressman in 1973. In the state's new top two primary system, fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell, a first-term Dublin councilman, will likely face Stark a second time in the November general election.

“I am honored to receive the President’s endorsement,” Stark said. “After a campaign focused on health care, working families and economic development, my first task back in Congress will be to work with the President and other members of Congress to get our economy back on the right track.”

President Obama must be a forgiving man. During a town hall meeting last September in Hayward, when speaking about the perception Obama acquiesced to Republican too often, Stark called him a "lousy politician."

SOCIAL MEDIA SHENANIGANS Fodder for those who believe, despite the incessant rhetoric of Rep. Pete Stark irascible nature, it has been Eric Swalwell who has run the far more negative campaign is coming from the realm of social media. A Facebook page, titled, "The Stark Truth," nicely highlights some of Stark's low lights over the years. The page is paid for by the Swalwell campaign, but a Twitter account named @PeteSnark also popped up earlier this week has no identifiable source. Nonetheless, the feed had one funny tweet a few days ago. "Well guess I'm officially the craziest one left RT @HuffPostPol It's official: Dennis Kucinich's time in Congress is ending"

WAR IN IRAN? Speaking of Dennis Kucinich, the long-time congressman and presidential candidate who lost his primary challenge earlier this year in Ohio, made hay this week about a bipartisan House resolution he said draws a convenient line in the sand for the administration to eventually wage war this year against Iran. Stark voted Thursday with just 10 other representative against the resolution, to which Swalwell commented on Facebook the decision again shows Stark is out of touch. Exactly, who Stark is out of touch with, though, is not clear. Stark has also been a pacifist when it comes to foreign wars--it's how he got elected in 1973--and his consistent stand against the current wars in the Middle East has always been a very popular stance among his constituents. In the past, Swalwell has used a similar argument when it comes to his perception of Stark being anti-Israel. However, Stark has always proclaimed to have never voted for approving arms sales to any foreign country, including its important ally, Israel.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Candidates For 18th Assembly District, Minus One, Debate In San Leandro

May 17, 2012 | The cavernous Bal Theatre in San Leandro with its bright light glaring down on three candidates for the 18th Assembly District made it difficult to see the faces of their future constituents. For a race that has consistently seen candidates unwilling to face-off with each other while sharing similar riffs on the same issues like, job creation, oil severance taxes and reducing the two-thirds majority, the rhetoric made it almost equally hard for voters to differentiate between the candidates.

Being San Leandro, the first question posed by City Manager Chris Zapata dealt with the impending closing of San Leandro Hospital. Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta said he would look into the city enacting a parcel tax to help the hospital survive. It's a course of action, he says, that is similar to what he used as a member of the Alameda Healthcare District. “We went through the same battle and struggling that San Leandro Hospital is going through now in Alameda,” he said. He also advocated continuing the approach of Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, who backs formulating a “hybrid” plan to keep the facility’s emergency room open and bring acute rehab beds from Fairmont Hospital to San Leandro Hospital. Bonta said he would also “refresh” a bill once offered in the State Senate by Sen. Ellen Corbett that gives voters the ultimate authority for closing district-owned hospitals.

Abel Guillen, a trustee for the Peralta Community College Board of Directors, said he “was very disturbed to hear about the closing of San Leandro Hospital” and added, "As a legislator, my job is to actually try to bring the parties together and broker some kind of a deal to insure access is not denied.” Guillen is also supported by the California Nurses Association, which has been an active and vocal supporter of keeping the doors at San Leandro Hospital open.

AC Transit board member Joel Young did not attend the San Leandro debate because of a prior engagement, said his campaign manager Mark Goodwin, who filled in for Young Wednesday night. Goodwin was more general about how Young would help San Leandro Hospital, saying Sacramento should make it easier for local governments to fund services on their own. “The key, long-term for making those hospitals viable, is to make it easier for us to make our own decisions about the community services that we want to support,” he said, although, he also said Gov. Jerry Brown’s realignment plan in areas like prisons, “could be a very good thing in the long run.”

The hour-long forum did reveal some of the potential pieces of legislation that might one day be offered by one of the candidates in the future. In a bill likely targeted at constituents in Alameda, rather than San Leandro, Bonta said one of his first priorities would be to offer an exemption for former military installations to continue receiving tax increment dollars lost to the dissolution of redevelopment agencies. He said the plan would revitalize these areas across the district and state, while creating an economic stimulus and jobs. Bonta reiterated another proposal he calls an “emergency prevention fund” that would provide communities with spikes in crime or loss of funds in public safety a boost of state dollars.

Guillen said he would immediately offer a Constitutional amendment to lower the threshold for local governments to raise tax revenue from two-thirds to 55 percent. “It’s hard to get two-thirds of any group of people to agree to anything,” he said. Giving local governments more power will also help seniors and children avoid cuts to health care and education. “It’s reasonable and will have an immediate impact,” Guillen added. He also proposed looking into a two-year cycle for legislation, whereby lawmakers would audit potential bills one year and offer them in the Legislature the next.

Although, he admitted Young’s first piece of legislation is a bit “wonky,” but important, Goodwin said the state’s contract procurement process needs to be changed. The current “Buy American” regulations allow for 60 percent of the work must go to American workers, Goodwin said, but most of the work goes to the East Coast and fails to help the local and state economy. Goodwin said Young might also look into enacting a sugary drink tax, similar to proposals in several local governments across the state.

The low light of the debate possibly came from a question directly from its moderator, Zapata, who asks the candidates how they would stop passing down unfunded mandates on local government. Each of the candidates either gave short answers or merely avoided the query all together.

Bonta said he been on the receiving end of the unfunded mandates in Alameda, both as a healthcare district director and councilman. “If you’re going to impose mandates and you’re not going to fund them, then they have to let localities be able to generate that revenue themselves.” One way is to lower the two-thirds majority, he said.

As the only candidate to have worked in the Capitol as a staffer for the appropriations committee, Guillen said, “If the state doesn’t have its financial house in order, then we should not put any further mandates on local government," although he would allow for an exemption in the extraordinary case of a health and safety issue.

Goodwin simply declared the obvious. “The state, because it is broken in terms of its ability to make decisions about revenue and spending, has frequently left city and county governments with unfunded mandates to help balance the [state] budget.”

Voters will have one last chance to see the three candidates in the same room just six days from the June 5 primary on Wednesday, May 30, 6:00, at the Allen Temple Baptist Church, Oakland. A fourth candidate, Republican Rhonda Weber, has not attended any debates.