Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Perils Of Posing With Disgraced Politicians; Differing Views On Kaplan-De La Fuente

Noel Gallo, Meg Whitman in 2010.
ELECTION '12//OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL NOTES | Many in the East Bay now realize their local leaders have no compunction against posing for photographs with some of the area's most infamous characters. Democrats, even those running for office this November, apparently have few impulses against standing before a camera with convicted shoplifter Mary Hayashi. (Conversely, Hayashi had no problem posing with this local assembly candidate who wore yellow trousers. Scroll down at your own risk.)

There are many good reasons for politicians to cater to Hayashi even with her considerable baggage. However, while the local political infrastructure in the East Bay--almost entirely blue-will support a Democrat canoodling with another soiled Democrat, it will not look kindly at the slightest embrace of even the most saintly Republican.

In Oakland's overwhelmingly Latino District 5 the existence of a photo featuring Oakland school board member Noel Gallo--a candidate for the district's city council seat in Oakland--appearing with defeated California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman is getting renewed attention.

Mary Hayashi and 20th Assembly candidate
Bill Quirk at his retirement party this July.
A supporter of Mario Juarez, another likely candidate for Fruitvale's District 5, said last week, "Just Google Noel Gallo and Meg Whitman" and coolly nodded with a mischievous smirk. Whitman, who was defeated by Jerry Brown in 2010, made a surprise appearance at Oakland's Jefferson Elementary School in October of that year with Gallo in tow. Whitman used the appearance to take digs at Brown's role in the city's downtrodden school system. Although, Gallo stood up for the school district's gain over the past few years, he often looked chummy with Whitman. In one video, Gallo joked with school children that Whitman might one day be president.

The problem for Gallo's appearance with Whitman, though, is much more problematic than hobnobbing with just any conservative, but with a Republican who was openly hostile to his sizable Latino constituency. Even during her visit in 2010 with Gallo, Whitman spoke of limiting college admission against undocumented students. "I think it's only fair that people who have played by the rules, they get first chance here, and I think it's very very important," Whitman said. That sort of talk definitely does not play well in District 5 or any part of the East Bay for that matter.


QUEEN OF RANKED CHOICE Oakland Mayor Jean Quan attended last week's District 3 candidates forum in West Oakland and had some words of advice for candidate Alex Miller-Cole. Quan, apparently liked what she heard from Miller-Cole, who incidentally, was one of the few candidates who spoke kind words for the mayor's "100 block" plan. Ever conscious of the election gimmickry of ranked choice voting that gave her the surprise victory two years ago, Quan told Miller-Cole she believed the room of voters packed into Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church were split over his stances and that of an unnamed candidate. "Remember, you need to build a coalition," Quan, sounding like the sage of ranked choice voting, told him. Hopefully, the competing candidate Quan was referring to is not Sean Sullivan. Because minutes after Quan left, Miller-Cole called Sullivan an "asshole."


KAPLAN-DE LA FUENTE BLOCKBUSTER District 5 Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente's decision to bid for Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan's at-large seat is making waves and should prove to be a blockbuster campaign. Observers from different spectrums of Oakland, though, report differing opinions over De La Fuente's decision to forgo re-election for his current seat to run against Kaplan, most likely Oakland's most popular politician. "It's a suicide mission," a candidate for another Oakland race said regarding De La Fuente's chances. Conversely, another described Kaplan's tangible support is actually more tepid than people realize. "It's a mile wide and an inch deep," they said.

Alameda County Candidates List--Updated Daily

The Nov. 6 general election is one of the biggest ballots in years. According to the Alameda County registrar, some voters could have up to four separate ballot cards to mark and feed for tabulation. From Congress to the Eden Township Healthcare District, every race is of great importance and of need of serious examination. Below is a list of preliminary candidates for each race, updated daily until Aug. 10 and for some races with an incumbent not running for re-election, Aug. 15. Highlighted in pink are races that will be covered extensively during the next three months in the East Bay Citizen. Democrat=(D), Republican=(R), *incumbent, BOLD=filing complete.

13th District
Barbara Lee (D)
Marilyn Singleton (R)

15th District
Pete Stark (D)
Eric Swalwell (D)

District 18
Rob Bonta (D)
Abel Guillen (D)

District 20
Jennifer Ong (D)
Bill Quirk (D)

District 25
Arlyne Diamond (R)
Bob Wieckowski (D)

Board of Supervisors-District 2
Mark Green
Mary Hayashi

*Richard Valle

City Council (Pick 2)
Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft
Jeff Cambra
Tony Daysog
Karin Lucas
Jane Sullwold
Leland Traiman

School Board (Pick 3)
*Ron Mooney
Jon G. Murphy
Kurt Peterson
Michael J. Robles-Wong
Dennis Spencer
*Trish Spencer
*Nielsen Tam
Leland Traiman

*Tom Bates
Kriss Worthington

School Board (Pick 3)
*John Barbieri
*Jo A.S. Loss
*Kunio Okui

Steve Cho
Bill Harrison
Anu Natarajan

School Board (Pick 3)
*Jesus Armas
Sara Lamnin
Heather Reyes
John Taylor
Annette Walker
Wandra Williams

City Attorney
Jane Brunner
*Barbara Parker

City Council-At-Large
Ignacio De La Fuente
*Rebecca Kaplan

District 1
Craig Brandt
Dan Kalb
Amy Lemley
Don Link
Don Macleay
Richard Raya

District 3
Nyeisha DeWitt
Damon Eaves
Lynette Gibson-McElhaney
Alex Miller-Cole
Derrick Muhammad
Sean Sullivan

District 5
Noel Gallo
Mario Juarez

District 7
*Larry Reid

City Council-District 2
Dan Dillman
Morgan Mack-Rose
*Ursula Reed

District 4
Chris Crow
Darlene Daevu
Benny Lee

District 6
*Jim Prola

School District-Area 1

Area 3
Vince Rosato

Area 5
*Diana Prola

Mary Frates
Jason Toro
School Board-Pick 3
Norman Fobert
Helen Foster
Penny Peck
Syed "Tony" Shah
Jim Sherman

Board of Directors-Pick 2
*Ronald Hull
Vin Sawhney

*For the complete candidates list for every city and jurisdiction in Alameda County, go to acgov.org/rov

Monday, July 30, 2012

Hayashi Is Trading Down With Bid For No Endorsement In Supervisors Race

ELECTION '12//ALCO SUPERVISOR DIST2 | Like a fair carny sweetening the deal for disinterested customers, Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi is trading down in her bid to gain the support of local Democrats as she gears up for potentially brutal campaign for Alameda County's District 2 supervisors seat.

As reported two weeks ago, Hayashi was asking local politicians as early as last May for their endorsement of her fall campaign. Recently appointed Supervisor Richard Valle, Union City Mayor Mark Green and Robert Ridgeway also plan to run for the two-year seat vacated in April by Nadia Lockyer.

As jockeying begins for the crucial endorsement of the Democratic Party, several sources who have been contacted by Hayashi and choose not to be named, say the termed out assemblywoman is no longer asking party faithful to endorse her campaign. Instead, the sources say, Hayashi is asking for a no endorsement in the race. A moved likely meant to neutralize Valle's support among local Democrats and potentially deny him the requisite 60 percent of party delegates.

However, as seen earlier this month in Rob Bonta's successful endorsement from Democrats in the 18th Assembly District Central Committee, currying a majority of its members does not necessarily equal success. Bonta, reportedly, received only a single vote out of 10 members. The remaining votes came from party activists outside of the district and is perfectly legal under party rules.

By trading down from pointedly asking colleagues for their supporter to, essentially, asking them to, at least, not choose the other guys is the first tangible indication Hayashi's bid for supervisor is looking downright shaky and a whole lot desperate.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article referenced Democratic central committee members from outside the area voting for the party endorsement of the Alameda County District 2 race. Unlike the endorsement in the 18th Assembly District, this race is voted by Alameda County Democrats only.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Some Candidates For Oakland's District Three Council Seat Don't Like Each Other

ELECTION ‘12//OAKLAND COUNCIL DIST 3 | Who said ranked choice voting puts a damper on campaign fisticuffs? Battle lines became more visibly drawn Thursday night in West Oakland as the six candidates for the City Council’s District 3 began searching for the best ideas to fix the perennially underutilized section of the city.

Similar to a candidates forum two weeks ago at City Hall, the themes of putting people back to work and keeping them safe in West Oakland continue to be major issues. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s controversial “100 blocks” plan was also spotlighted as the beleaguered mayor sat in attendance at the Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church on 12th Street. Four of the six candidates appeared to hedge their bets on the efficacy of the program. Damon Eaves, however, called it a “gimmick” and referenced what he calls the historic “Oakland Agenda” of high crime poor relations with police. “When you call the police, they don’t come.” he said. “As long as people are getting killed, people won’t want to move here.”

Lynette Gibson-McElhaney was less skeptical of the mayor’s plan. “We can’t thrive with tyranny and threats to our lives,” she said before asking for the help of the public, instead. “We want your help to end the violence and what can you do to help? We’re not going to service our way out of this. We need to create work and hope.”

“We all have something to pick with the mayor or [Councilwoman] Nancy Nadel,” said Alex Miller-Cole, who said the corner of Market Street and 24th Street has never been safer because of the 100 block plan. “We all have to give the mayor, city administration time. Nobody should criticize if you don’t have a solution.”

In many ways the issues and potential windfall for West Oakland with the future development of the Army Base brought some of the night’s most pointed and passionate comments. “I believe the marginalized deserve first dibs on those jobs,” said Nyeisha DeWitt. “I believe giving back is our first priority and essential if you want to be in this community.”

Eaves signaled a similar message, but his comments—likely the most controversial of the night—might make local labor unions pause. Eaves alluded to the history of unions excluding blacks from membership and forcing many of them to formed their own construction companies. “Those are the groups that should be getting first crack at jobs at the West Oakland Army Base,” Eaves said to some audible murmurs in the audience. “Am I right? That’s just the way it works.”

Sean Sullivan said West Oakland needs a feeder system for viable future employees. “We need to make sure people are trained apprentices and certified so the developer has no excuse not to give those jobs to West Oaklanders.” Citing the Port of Oakland’s proximity to China’s revved up economy, Derrick Muhammad, also a Longshoreman, said the opportunity to expand the port will give Oakland’s break boat cargo facility “more viable and more competitive” along with creating more jobs. “Time is money and it’s an advantage for Oakland,” he said.

With about 100 days before the Nov. 6 general elections, which feature the use of ranked choice voting in this six-person race, the possibilities of crucial coalitions are hard to detect. However, figuring out who is far less than enamored with each other is easy. In fact, Eaves may have pushed the limits of decency when he attempted to delineated differences between himself and DeWitt and Muhammad, who revealed they were high school dropouts before later attaining degrees in higher education.

“So [Nyeisha] dropped out of high school with Derrick,” said Eaves as he rose from his seat and mistakenly referred to Gibson-McElhaney, instead of DeWitt, before correcting himself. “You’re all a lot braver than me. I wanted to, but I couldn’t.” The comment elicited some groans and may have been the impetus for DeWitt sticking around longer to refute the jab. She had previously alerted the audience she would leave the forum early to visit of friend whose child was to be buried the next morning.

The personal and political difference between Miller-Cole and Sullivan, however, have long been evident. As a local activist asked each candidate to pledge support for a voter registration drive next month, Sullivan offered 18 volunteers from his campaign. Not to be outdone, Miller-Cole immediately offered 20 volunteers. When asked afterwards about the rancor between the two, Miller-Cole said. “I hate that asshole and you can print that.”

In The 18th Assembly District, The Tide Is Rapidly Turning Toward Bonta

ELECTION '12//ASSEMBLY 18 | Last Jan. 30, the California Nurses Association, one of the state's most powerful labor unions endorsed Peralta Community College Trustee Abel Guillen for the 18th Assembly District. "Abel's record of improving access to quality health care for working class families is unmatched," said Malinda Markowitz, a co-president of CNA. "We look forward to working closely with Abel in the future to guarantee the health and safety of all Californians," she added.

However, the future apparently only meant the next six months.

On Tuesday, CNA announced they were splitting their once exclusive endorsement of Guillen and sharing it with his general election opponent, Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta.

Describing Bonta as a "true progressive," the same Markowitz, now president of CNA, said "He shares our commitment to public education, healthcare and livable wages for all. We are proud to endorse him for Assembly."

Whether a split endorsement or no endorsement at all, the ramifications for Guillen's campaign is certainly dire. CNA is one of the most proactive unions in the state and the relative muting of its endorsement, according to observers, essentially means its feared guns will be quiet during the last 100 days of this campaign.

Bonta won the top-two June primary with over 36 percent of the voters in Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro. Guillen, a fellow Democrat finished second with 30 percent.

News of CNA's decision is another sharp shank to the ribs capping one of the worst weeks imaginable for Guillen as his campaign attempts to overtake Bonta in the fall. On July 15, the local Democratic Central Committee narrowly awarded its endorsement to Bonta. The big win was followed a few days later with current Assemblyman Sandre Swanson enthusiastically backing Bonta in a lengthy press release.

Bonta's consolidation of power among progressive leaders and labor unions may force Guillen to fight more vigorously for the ultra-liberal constituency many believed six months ago belonged solely to him. In addition, a few supporters are grumbling loudly that Guillen needs to be tougher and signal a move powerful message catered toward the progressive majority in Oakland.

Reynoso Asks For Investigation Into Affair Among Hayward School Board Members

Luis Reynoso
HAYWARD SCHOOL BOARD SCANDAL | Just hours after an explosive account Wednesday of two Hayward school board officials caught in an alleged secret affair, the board began dealing with the potential ramifications of the improper relationship, including a call by board member Luis Reynoso for an investigation into the matter.

“This is unconscionable,” said Reynoso of the alleged affair between board members Jesus Armas and Maribel Heredia detailed in The Citizen. “If we had this going on between a teacher and a principal, believe me, we would fire the teacher and principal and we’ve done this before.”

Reynoso, long a critic of Armas, later asked Hayward School Superintendent Donald Evans to review the allegations. “I want an investigation on this,” said Reynoso. “This does not go lightly in any board and we need to know what our actions are going to be. Something needs to be done and I’m not going to just let it go.” But, Armas interjected, saying a call for an investigation was not agendized for Wednesday’s meeting. “You’re interrupting,” Reynoso shot back.

It was not the only exchange between Reynoso and Armas during last Wednesday’s four hour meeting. At the end of earlier remarks over the burgeoning scandal, Reynoso concluded by saying, “I’m going to hold back” until receiving language on a potential new policy. “So, that was holding back?” Armas interrupted.

“Yeah, this is serious business—what you guys are doing,” Reynoso responded. “You’re on the school board and you’re doing this?” Armas, the board's president, then allowed Heredia time to speak. “I would like to focus on what is before us and not innuendos on the Internet or people’s dating practices,” Heredia said.

 Fellow school board member Lisa Brunner also urged focus on the district’s student, many of whom will be returning to the classroom next month. “I ran for the school board, too, but to focus on students and the business at hand and I can honestly say that I butt out of everyone’s personal business unless it does directly affect the students.” Armas later added, “It is important to stay focused on the education of our children.”

The the less-than-forceful comments led Reynoso to say, "I'm very discouraged that other board members are not talking about this. Yes, we are a family and, yes, we do need to speak up and action needs to be taken." He later added, "If we don't take action to fix this, I really think you should recall all of us, including me."

The fifth member of the board, William McGee, did not comment on the subject during the meeting, but afterwards, told The Citizen he would like to see changes to the board’s policy on such relationships. A discussion over updating the board’s policies and conduct was already slated for last Wednesday’s agenda. Its current set of policies, according to staff, has not been updated for 20 years.

“There needs to be policy about what was written about and what is being alleged is going on and what looks like is possibly true.” He later offered adding “a vote of no-confidence when trust is compromised” among the document’s revisions. McGee also spoke to the potential of impropriety when two board members may be entering into a secret alliance within the board. “Like Dr. Reynoso said, I put in my time and I think everyone is on the up and up, but then you find out it’s not and then I say to myself, ‘So, this is why this vote went this way?’” McGee did not specify what vote or votes he suspects may have been manipulated.

Long-time Hayward resident Jim Drake, a frequent commenter at many public meetings in the city, worried about the example being set by the alleged behavior. "I became aware of an article today in the East Bay Citizen and it has to do with morals," he said. "If there's any truth to this, each one of you up here are setting morals for our kids and, if there is truth there, you need to resign."

Reynoso, though, was not done with twisting the knife into his board rivals, and used the discussion on board policy to bring up the alleged affair, yet again. “The board can only happen as an entity, but what happens when two of us have a relationship?” he said. “When you have these secret relationships among board members you have a conflict of interest, you have collusion, you have undue influence among the vote. You don’t have an independent vote anymore.” He then referenced a similar affair that occurred on the Hayward City Council in 2010 between a sitting councilwoman and city manager. “We don’t have anything to deal with this and the city council--they didn’t have anything in place, either.”


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hayward School Board Member Embroiled In Affair With Colleague Admitted To Not Reading Meeting Materials

HAYWARD SCHOOL BOARD SCANDAL | A Hayward school board member alleged to be having an affair with another member admitted in a deposition last May that she does not read agenda materials given to her before each board meeting and relies upon a colleague to for advice.

The May 18 deposition obtained by The Citizen is one of the most damning piece yet showing a consistent rubber stamping of the school board staff's agenda was indeed occurring in the past. Critics have long claimed the board's past inattention to detail has greatly contributed to the overspending and mismanagement that has placed the moribund school district in the lowest tiers of education in the state. It also bolsters suspicions that the secret love affair between school board members Jesus Armas and Maribel Heredia may have spilled into discussions of board-related items.

Heredia, Armas
In the deposition taken in Hayward pertaining to the Heredia’s custody fight with her ex-fiance, she seemingly offers the evidence of her inaction as a board member to the attorney without pause. The context of the questioning involved the attorney asking Heredia about an income and expenses declaration she had previously filled out. When she could not recall specifics about a particular entry, she told the attorney she could not concentrate and suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. "I get overwhelmed with reading a lot of material.”

Attorney: Do you read a lot of materials as a School Board member?

Heredia: I have to.

Attorney: Does it overwhelm you?

Heredia: I don’t do it.

Attorney: You don’t do the reading?

Heredia: Not everything that is—comes to me, no. It’s overwhelming.

When further pressed on the issue, Heredia says she relies on another unnamed board member for advice and discloses she relies upon school board staff to read and direct her votes.

Attorney: Does somebody read it to you?

Heredia: I call another board member to talk about some of the issues that are coming up. And the packets we get are very large. And sometimes a lot of stuff is a formality that we need to approve. We don’t need to read.

But there are some issues that I care about. That those are the things I look into. And then there is other stuff that I will conference with another board member. For instance, business stuff. I’m not very familiar with that. So I’ll just conference with a board member who has more expertise on that to let me know what the document…

Attorney: What kind of things are you interested in so you do read all the documents?

Heredia: I really don’t need to read all the documents because we have staff that does it. And if I have questions—for instance, it will have a cover page saying something like “Approve after-school programs.”

Attorney: Okay

Heredia: And I will—they are usually bold, the different companies, like Sylvan or Tutor Works.

Attorney: These are vendors to the District?

Heredia: Yes. And if I had a question, I would call staff and ask them.

The breathtaking exchange of a sitting school board member admitting dereliction of her duties then ended abruptly. A copy of deposition shows a discussion was held of record. Once they returned on the record and the clock was nearing 3 p.m., Heredia claimed her time was up. She then rescheduled for another day, and left.

The revelation comes a day after news of an affair between Armas, one of Hayward’s most powerful political figures and Heredia, a first-term school member up for re-election this fall. During a school board meeting Wednesday night, neither specifically denied the charges. “If you have school-related questions, I would be happy to answer them,” Armas said at the conclusion of the meeting.

School board member William McGee said he had heard rumors here and there about an affair between Armas and Heredia and reacted badly to the news Wednesday afternoon. “It put me in a bad mood. I was pretty sad at the news,” he said. McGee, who nearly felt compelled to comment on the affair during Wednesday's meeting, said afterwards, the potential for collusion among other board members was forcing him rethink the outcomes of some of the board’s previous votes. “I'm starting to understand why some votes were going the same ways,” McGee said. “Now it’s got me wondering."

Luis Reynoso, one of the school board’s most ardent opponents of Armas, repeatedly referred to the article published in The Citizen during the four hour meeting and continued the lambasting afterwards. Within earshot of Armas, he said, “I’m deeply embarrassed. He didn’t even apologize. I can’t believe this. I would just apologize and move on.” Armas smiled, picked up his things and walked away.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Alameda County Passes First Pharmaceutical Drug Disposal Ordinance In The Country

The Alameda Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the nation’s first ever pharmaceutical drug disposal ordinance Tuesday that will require the pharmaceutical industry to provide disposal units for consumers to drop off of their unused or unwanted pharmaceutical drugs. The ordinance is a landmark because it is the first take back program of its kind in the United States. It has seen health, environmental and youth agencies as well as political officials such as Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. come out in support of the ordinance.

Advocates have argued that it will reduce pharmaceutical waste in the waterways and the disposal opportunity will reduce drug availability in homes for teens to access. “I am proud that we’ve found a more sustainable policy solution that promotes good will and corporate social responsibility,” said Supervisor Nate Miley, president of the Alameda Board of Supervisors, in a statement released Tuesday. “The community’s growing demand for more permanent and convenient medication disposal sites goes far beyond what the County can fund and operate on its own.”

Undersheriff for the Alameda Sheriff’s Department, Rich Lucia, spoke of the sheriff department’s drop off box at the Eden Township Substation first established in 2010 and since then roped in 1,400 pounds of unwanted medication; a number that Lucia touts as positive evidence for take back programs. But the cost would run to about $600,000 a year for Alameda County, according to Lucia.
“This ordinance is a fairly cost effective way to deal with this and possibly a model for the rest of the country,” said Lucia.

The ordinance aims to push the weight of cost off of local government and into the hands of the pharmaceutical industry whose wealth is among some of the highest in the country. But according to opponent Ritchard Engelhardt of BayBio; an independent, non-profit trade association serving the life science industry in Northern California, the chance of the ordinance spreading and generation of different regulations would create a quagmire of confusing costs and inefficiencies.

Engelhardt advocates for something more straight forward and across the board rather than an ordinance that could spark many different forms of ordinances. According to Engelhardt some pharmaceutical companies have estimated the drug disposal ordinance could cost up to a million dollars although the data is unavailable for public viewing and the estimation differs greatly from the County’s estimates.

Engelhardt had also previously stated that the environmental impact would not be thwarted by the ordinance stating that most traces of pharmaceutical drugs are found in human excrement rather than actual improper drug disposal, according to peer reviewed studies cited by BayBio. Opponents have also argued personal responsibility of civilians to keep the drugs out of the hands of teenagers to minimize drug experimentation and possible harm.

The supervisors rejected these arguments during the first reading of the ordinance on July 10, arguing that action to stunt teenage experimentation and potential environmental degradation is better than no action at all and invited the pharmaceutical industry to work with the public sector in further improving the ordinance to deal with the stated issues that both opponents and proponents agreed did exist. “The scarcity of medication collection sites has led residents to stockpile drugs in their homes, throw medications in the trash or flush them down the toilet- all of which have public health, safety and environmental risks,” according to the supervisor’s Tuesday press release.

The supervisors were contacted for further comment but have not returned phone calls at this time.

Talk of the pharmaceutical industry suing the county has been of the supervisors’ concern but it’s been uncertain if a lawsuit would be pursued. According to Engelhardt the industry would have to calculate if they can comply with the ordinance as written but admits to “not hearing anyone moving on the legal side of things at this point in time.”

Text Messages Reveal Another Illicit Romance Among Public Officials In Hayward

HAYWARD SCHOOL BOARD | Two current members of the Hayward School Board are participating in an inappropriate relationship, according to text messages obtained by The Citizen. In addition, numerous sources, including the disgruntled ex-fiance who confronted one of the alleged participants last January, say School board members Jesus Armas and Maribel Heredia have been an item for, at least, one year, without revealing their relationship to fellow board members and school adminstrators.

Whether improper or not, Armas is married with two adult children, the secret relationship could run afoul of state sunshine laws and give critics of the city’s downtrodden school district additional fodder to seek change in its leadership. The district, ranked one of the worst in California, has laid in the shadow of a potential takeover by the state for several years due to overspending and general mismanagement. Armas did not responded to an email sent Tuesday. However, Heredia denied the affair and said no violation of the Brown Act have occured.

"Given the amount of mis-information out there and the personal attacks founded by absurd and vindictive people without values or ideals, I hesitate to comment at all," wrote Heredia on Wednesday afternoon. "I, fortunately, have many trusted and valued friends. Some of which are valued and trusted members of our educational community, the extent of those friendships are not known to anyone. Anything else is supposition and rumor, designed to remove the focus from our success and work for the educational needs of our students and families.

"I am familiar with the Brown Act and those who understand the law, know there is no possibility of any violation ever occurring on my account. And
those who know me, know there is never an occasion to question trust in my character."

Rumors of the illicit love affair had been heard around Hayward’s chatty community of politicos and business owners going back to late last year. Two sources, who asked that their names not be used because of their ties to the school district, said the couple’s arrival last June 5 at an election party for the passage of the city’s school parcel tax confirmed for them the two were having an affair. “If you didn’t know anything about them, you would surely guess they were together,” said the contact, who also noticed Armas carrying Heredia’s handbag upon arriving at the event.

Text messages from between June 13 to June 26 from Armas to Heredia also shed light on an love affair progressing more further along than playful flirting among consenting adults and describe numerous meetings during the short period of time. “So, what did you buy?” asked Armas in a text on June 16. “Crotchless panties,” said Heredia.

In another, Heredia describes having a headache and doubts she will attend the school board meeting that evening. “We have a lot on agenda. ¾ principals, budget, SPSA, music, ELD/ALD waivers and more. Will u b able attend? Maybe u can go home and rest beforehand,” texted Armas. “Can’t rest,” replied Heredia. “head feels better when you are holding me.” A minute later Armas offers, “How about after mtng.”

A day earlier on June 19, Heredia seems to reveal the deepening relationship, in her mind, between her and Armas when she complains he abruptly changed plans between them in order to attend an A’s game. “Don’t know why you are telling me at the last minute about the change in plans. I am upset,” Heredia texted. Apparently unaware of the reference, Armas says, “It's not rushed. Let’s have lunch.”

“Not talking about lunch Jesus,” she replies in two messages. “I thought you were coming over tonight. You changed plans at the last minute or you had planned to go to game, and did not think about letting me know. very thoughtless of you.”
Joe Aldana, Heredia’s ex (the two were together 18 years, but never married and have two children together), says he confronted Armas about the affair in late January after reading other text messages and being aware of numerous phone calls between the two. A school board-sanctioned trip to Sacramento for an education conference attended by both Armas and Heredia fueled Aldana’s suspicions the two were having an affair. Armas never admitted the affair, recalls Aldana, but remained cagey during the questioning and attempted to console Aldana about his personal problems with Heredia and its effects on their children. However, Armas mentioned his wife had begun worrying about gossip in the community over numerous public appearances between himself and Heredia, said Aldana, who is seeking joint custody with Heredia of their two children, 16 and 10-years-old.

Apparently, being a member of elected office in Hayward is becoming a more successful route to romance than joining Match.com. As reported in The Citizen last month, Armas’ successor in the city manager’s office, Greg Jones, also entered into a secret relationship with then-Councilwoman Anna May. The Council and city attorney, in that case, pressed the two to reveal their budding romance, but neither would do so. The situation ultimately led to the council holding closed session meetings without May and, according to sources aware of the council’s thought process; they were setting the path to fire Jones. He eventually resigned in March 2010, but returned this month to the council after winning election last June. In the Jones/May affair there is one major difference: May was technically Jones’s boss. The council hires the city manager. In the case of Armas/Heredia, both are equals on the school board, however, there is reason to worry both discussed agenda items together and with other members of the board. Member-to-member discussion is permitted under the Brown Act, as long as the group does not exceed a majority of the board. Hayward’s school board consists of five members. The Citizen also obtained a transcript of deposition where Heredia described not reading agenda packets beforehand and admits to relying on another board member to explain some business-related items to her. (Details of the transcript will be reported in The Citizen in coming days.)

Outside the salaciousness of the situation involving Armas and Heredia, their secret romance presents the school district and city with a list of potential pitfalls surely heightened by the volatility nature of extramarital interpersonal relationships. For instance, earlier this month in Southern California, a male city councilman in San Fernando was forced to resign and admit his extramarital affair in public with another member of the council, coincidentally, also named Maribel. Both council members had recently gained temporary restraining orders against each other stating they must stay at least 100 feet from each other. The forced arrangement obviously made sitting together on the chamber’s dais impossible and .

In Hayward, it is widely accepted that Armas is the city’s most well-known insider and fixer. His expertise on a bevy of governmental issues is highly sought after not only in Hayward, but in surrounding cities. In 2009, Armas even consulted for Sutter Health in gaining approval from the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to pass the hospital provider's environmental impact review to begin rebuilding Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley. If there is a person who knows how to get things done and, more importantly, how not to, it is Armas, according to numerous contacts in Hayward. After serving as city manager earlier this decade, he was appointed to the school board in 2010 and won re-election later that year. Armas recently pulled papers to again run for re-election this November.

Heredia is far less known. She won election to the school board in 2008 on the heels of opposition to the No Child Left Behind Act and participated in a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education that was critical of a section in the law defining unlicensed teachers as highly qualified. It is believed, through sources, she too will run for re-election this fall.

UPDATE-7/25/12, 3:40 p.m.: A statement from Heredia was included in this article.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Special Tax For Oakland Zoo Heading To Ballot; Changes To County Fundraising Limit

ALAMEDA COUNTY//BOS ROUNDUP | A new and badly needed revenue source may be coming to the beleaguered Oakland Zoo. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved placing a special tax on the November ballot that could net the zoo around $4.5 million in additional revenue through a $12 annual parcel tax.

Dr. Joel Parrott, the executive director of the Oakland Zoo, told the board he is confident the measure will be successful this fall after polling revealed 75 percent of respondents to a survey about the tax said they backed the measure or were “likely yes.” A previous survey testing $20 parcel tax showed less exuberance among voter, Parrott said.

The zoo, established at its current location in the 1950s, is in need of improvements to its infrastructure, including animal enclosures and aging drainage systems, said Parrott, who also pledged to use the increased revenue to preserve its existing programs and exhibits. The Oakland Zoo welcomes over 600,000 visitors, primarily from the East Bay to its park near the Oakland Hills.

Supervisor Scott Haggerty, while offering his support for the zoo, raised questions over a proposal by the zoo to fund the ballot initiative through a payment schedule with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters. The arrangement would set a bad precedent for other jurisdictions wanting to use similar plans to fund ballot measures, said Haggerty.

Supervisor Scott Haggerty
AMENDMENT TO COUNTY CAMPAIGN FUNDRAISING LIMIT Supervisor Scott Haggerty’s county campaign fundraising ordinance, passed after the now infamous election of former Supervisor Nadia Lockyer in 2010, is getting quite a bit of attention in the run up to Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi’s campaign for the seat held by Supervisor Richard Valle this fall. However, the ordinance, created for county-based district races needed tweaking, according to Haggerty, who was hearing complaints from potential candidates for other races, excluding county supervisor.

A first reading of an amendment to Haggerty’s ordinance was approved Tuesday that would double the campaign fundraising limitation for individuals to county-wide races from $20,000 per election to $40,000. “It has been brought to my attention that this could hinder the ability of county officials who run in county-wide elections to raise the funds needed to organize and operate a county-wide campaign,” Haggerty wrote to the Board of Supervisors.

The change would not affect races for county supervisor, including the hotly-contested campaign in District 2 featuring Supervisor Richard Valle, Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi and Union City Mayor Mark Green. The $20,000 threshold is believed to be commensurate with campaign costs associated with a smaller district race, rather than one catering to the entire county. Such offices would include those for district attorney, sheriff, treasurer, county administrator.

COUNTY DRUG DISPOSAL INITIATIVE IS LAW The Board reaffirmed its unanimous support two weeks ago for Supervisor Nate Miley’s safe drug disposal ordinance by approving its second reading Tuesday afternoon.

It is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, but large pharmaceutical producers may still have a say in when and if it ever goes into effect. The threat of a lawsuit against the county still exists. The ordinance forces drug producers to design and execute drug disposal programs at their own costs. The law is based on the idea producers should be held responsible for the end use of the products they sell.

OLDEN HENSON RETURNS TO GOVERNMENT Former Hayward Councilman Olden Henson is back in local government just two weeks after his defeat in the June elections. The 18-year council veteran was appointed by Supervisor Richard Valle to sit on the Oversight Committee for Hayward’s redevelopment agency. Olden will replace Teri Swartz, who resigned this month.

In additon, a spate of appointments issued Tuesday before the Board’s August recess, include Valle becoming a delegate to the Associated Bay Area Governments and Aileen Chong-Jeung being appointed to the Castro Valley Municipal Action Committee. Both appointments were made by Supervisor Nate Miley.

DEPUTY LOSES HIS PANTS On June 15, three pitbulls attacked Alameda County Sheriffs Deputy Peter Slaughter while on duty. One of the ravenous dogs ripped Slaughter’s pants. The damage cost Slaughter $186.93 to replace the torn trousers and he wants the county to reimburse him.

The agenda item is one of the oddest you will see in government, but also shows how the work of the Board of Supervisors is often found in the most minute of details. The expenditure, though, exceeded Risk Management’s $150 limit for approving claims and needed the Board's approval.

Rest assured, if the issue of pants ever comes up in the future, one potential supervisor might be able show the county how they can replace those trousers at no cost.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hayashi's Problem Is Not "The Mugshot," It's Her Inattention To Needs Of Alameda County

ELECTION '12//ALAMEDA COUNTY SUPERVISOR | With Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi's plans to run for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors this fall now a certainty, the convicted shoplifter is hoping contrary to what she told the Bay Area News Group this week, that voters in Southern Alameda County are not all too smart.

While the entire East Bay political appears to be in a constant state of ruin, good work is actually being done at all levels of government, even by the rogues gallery of drug addicts, thieves and philanders. However, all of the infamous characters, whether they the Lockyers, Hayashi and others, have one personality trait in common--extreme and obscenely hostile arrogance.

Take Hayashi's comments to Josh Richman on Saturday. She didn't reason her candidacy for the Board of Supervisors would necessarily give her specific opportunities to help downtrodden residents of the county where unemployment still greatly outpaces nearly every part of the country. Instead, she simply said she's running because she can and the final smart, cold political arithmetic penciled out at one of the fancy Sacramento dining establishments she reportedly loves to frequent appear to add up to victory in November. "I'm not coming into this blind," she told the paper. "I think the research shows I can win this race."

She also repeated what has been and will likely continue to be a major talking point in fighting back critics of her January conviction for shoplifting $2,450 from Neiman Marcus in San Francisco; that line of course, contends Hayashi owned up to her mistake and offered no excuses. In fact, her previous non-excuse was to blame the incident on the alleged presence of a benign brain tumor. She now tells the Bay Area News Group the brain tumor did not, in fact, make her steal a pair of black leather jeans and two blouses and blamed her attorney Doug Rappaport for the statement to reporters minutes after leaving a San Francisco court room last January.

I was one of those reporters who hung around the hallways of the San Francisco Hall of Justice waiting hours for the rumored arrival of Hayashi to presumably plea to something. It's funny what happens when a gaggle of bored reporters have time to kill and a subject as controversial as Hayashi to converse about. Stories about Sacramento lawmakers loathing to deal with the erratic and sometimes unstable Hayashi turned to lascivious rumors she not only once posed as a Lesbian for the purpose of gaining fundraising dollars to actually being Lesbians, herself. Some Sacramento reporters even dabbled in a long-rumored gossip over a marital affair between Hayashi and a legislative aide, which may have led to a $130,000-a-year job on her staff.

What now appears most striking about the disclosure of Hayashi's brain tumor on that January day was how Hayashi, standing meekly next to her attorney, said nothing to refute his explanation. A few days later, a press release from Hayashi seemed to have concurred with the tumor defense theory. In fact, after paying her fine at the court room, Hayashi was seen giving a heartfelt and seemingly relieved embrace to Rappaport, her lawyer, as she left the building. If she disapproved of her lawyer's handling of the media, it did not show that day.

Conversely, the somewhat disavowing of the brain tumor aspect of her defense is actually surprising. A few East Bay insiders were unanimous about the belief Hayashi might be able to stave off criticism of the shoplifting conviction by using her alleged malady as a vehicle to drum up voter sympathy. As one insider told me, a lot of voters will feel sorry for her and chalked up the conviction to a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes, right?

Although disenchantment with Hayashi might appear to some to be a relatively new and potent cottage industry of derision and outrage among East Bay residents, it is easy to forget, she was already one of the most disliked and controversial politicians in the area, if not, entire Capitol. Before "shoplifting" became the word most likely to be attached to her name, the moniker of "carpetbagger" was once the top answer. There is truth to both assertions. Hayashi is not a product of the Northern California and the word carpetbagger is also packed with other distasteful connotations, primarily the notion she is nothing but a political opportunist. Outrage also followed her when she transferred $50,000 from her campaign to that of her husband, Dennis Hayashi, who was running for Alameda County Superior Court judge at the time. Dennis won that seat after a string of unfruitful campaigns. The criticism over Hayashi buying her husband's seat is now viewed as the precursor to Bill Lockyer spending nearly $2 million to stash his wife, Nadia Lockyer, on the Board of Supervisor. Ironically, it's the same seat Hayashi is seeking this November after the drug-addled Lockyer resigned last April.

Observers of this potential firecracker of a race for the Board of Supervisors between Hayashi, current Supervisor Richard Valle and Union City Mayor Mark Green believe the road to defeating her is simply matter of running off a few thousand copies of the shockingly brutal mugshot taken after cops nabbed her late last October and surely celebrating in her defeat. However, it may be better to think counterintuitively about campaigning against Hayashi this year. Make the conviction a tasty and satisfying side dish and run against her in a more conventional and issues-based manner because truthfully Hayashi is one of the least remarkable lawmakers in the entire Legislature.

If the being uncommonly connected to the community is one of the main prerequisites for county supervisor, then Hayashi fails. Chalk it up to her natural arrogance or her background as a carpetbagger, but Hayashi's record in the Assembly bears little resemblance to the wants and needs of her constituents around Hayward. In fact, the hallmark of much of her legislation is almost entirely focused on broad-based and often nebulous bills. Sure, she "votes" the right way, meaning she sides with her liberal caucus in the Capitol, but, that too is controversial after the San Francisco Chronicle reported a few years back numerous cases of someone other than Hayashi doing the actually voting on the Assembly floor. Hayashi's desire to carry the water for special interests, primarily those connected to health care, is likely an outcome tied to her desire to one day run for Congress. Her unnatural distance from her constituents and their problems is not a good fit for a county supervisor who is expected to get their hands dirty in the everyday problems of citizens lacking health care, suitable employment, food and shelter. It is also a huge negative that Hayashi comes from the government body most in local municipalities viewed as the root of the headache as they watch Sacramento continually fix their budget problems on the backs of cities. On this subject, there is no better ally for Hayashi's opponents than Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney, who has lambasted Hayashi over her votes in the Assembly he believes have stymied Hayward's growth.

The perfect snapshot to highlight Hayashi's disconnect from the people of Alameda County is to recount an incident that occurred over two years ago. As residents of San Leandro fought for a legislative solution for keeping San Leandro Hospital in operation, they turned to Hayashi and Sen. Ellen Corbett. The bill co-authored by the two rival local lawmakers sought to hamper Sutter Health's ability to close the hospital by asking for the unlikely consent of voters. When the bill came before Hayashi's Assembly Health Committee, how did she vote? Not surprisingly, with the bill's fate in the balance, Hayashi declined to vote, effectively killing her own bill and removing a road block for Sutter to eventually take control of the facility this year with eyes on closing its doors sometime in the near future. "The Mugshot" may seem like a loaded gun itching to go off in Hayashi's black leather jeans, but her real political problem is her abysmal record in helping the citizens of Alameda County.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Future Of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries In San Leandro Turn A Surprising Corner

SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL//MEDICAL MARIJUANA | On July 2, the San Leandro City Council was just hours from likely approving a one-year ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in the East Bay city. Earlier in the day, an California appellate court overturned a ruling in Southern California that now puts the legal theory behind San Leandro’s proposed ordinance in doubt. San Leandro City Attorney Jayne Williams recommended pulling the agenda item that night to allow for a further review of the city’s options.

On Monday, the ramifications of the appellate become clear as five of the seven council members used the ruling to not only justify their votes against a first reading of the now legally-dubious ordinance, they surprisingly moved the city the closest it has ever come to welcoming the burgeoning medical cannabis industry to San Leandro. The council directed city staff to analyze how San Leandro may go about regulating dispensaries within its city limits.

The developments this week seemed unthinkable even two weeks ago when a majority of the council seems particularly reticent over how to tackle the issue. Aside from holdouts, Councilmembers Joyce Starosciak and Diana Souza, who have long been opponents of the pot trade, the rest of the council appeared leery over taking a definitive stand. However, the stark change in the council’s switch from a ban to potentially regulating the industry, even moved Souza to say, although she dislikes dispensaries, she would support it if the majority of the council chooses regulation.

The biggest and most surprising reversal belonged to Mayor Stephen Cassidy. On Monday, he made a passionate and reasoned plea in favor of dispensaries. “I want us to move forward, be clear to staff,“ said Cassidy, who had also voiced displeasure over the council’s lack of direction on the issue earlier in the month. His initially reservations over dispensaries included the belief surrounding cities offered adequate access to legal marijuana and suspicions not all card holders were indeed patients. However, Cassidy now reasons, “You cannot say you’re in favor of medical marijuana and than restrict it in your city.” He later acknowledged public outreach may be needed for the potentially jarring city policy change involving the typically controversial subject of marijuana. “ I appreciate this may be a big change for the community,” he said.

Monday’s vote was a clear victory for proponents of safe access to medical cannabis, including the council’s most vociferous and consistent advocate for regulating dispensaries. Councilman Jim Prola said he was surprised by the night’s turn of events. “I didn’t think we had more than two votes—Michael [Gregory] and myself,” he said afterwards. During the meeting, Prola reiterated his belief that the prohibition on marijuana is creating the violence referenced by city staff and law enforcement. “Don’t let them scare,” said Prola, who advocated for a change in policy direction. “It’s the rule of holes,” he said. “If you’re in one and it's not going anywhere--stop digging.”

Three candidates for City Council this November spoke publicly on the issue and offered differing perspectives. The subject of dispensaries will assuredly be a major campaign issue this fall. District 2 candidate Dan Dillman speaking in favor of regulation echoed a similar theme to that of Prola. “I’m looking at you guys to lead,” said Dillman. “Let’s not be scared about any of this. Let’s not live in fear.” Chris Crow, a candidate in District 4 agreed, but his potential opponent, Heron Bay Homeowners Association President Benny Lee said, while he is not opposed to medical marijuana, “I’m seriously concerned were opening the doors to recreational use.”

Claudia McHenry, a San Leandro resident, also opposes dispensaries. “These places, unfortunately, are magnets for individuals not interested in the great uses of medical marijuana," she told the council. "Allowing a dispensary in San Leandro would only bring us problems.” The council will revisit the dispensary issue after its August recess, including the likelihood of an organized and vocal local response in opposition of any possible proposal. To date, no medical marijuana dispensary has shown concrete interest in securing a business license in San Leandro.

Swanson Places Progressive Backing On Bonta Over Guillen In 18th Assembly District

Bonta, Swanson
ELECTION '12//ASSEMBLY 18 | A week that already included the all-important blessing of the California Democratic Party got even better for Rob Bonta Wednesday night as Assemblyman Sandre Swanson announced his endorsement of  the Alameda Vice Mayor in the 18th Assembly District.

The pick by Swanson, one of the most progressive leaders in the Assembly, is viewed by many to be a potential gamechanger in the race for replace him in the Assembly between fellow Democrats Bonta and Peralta Community College Trustee Abel Guillen. The redrawn 18th District encompasses a majority of Swanson's current constituentcy in the East Bay, including Oakland and Alameda. Swanson is termed this November and is expected to run for the State Senate in 2016.

Bonta's big week started last Sunday afternoon when he snagged the endorsement of the Democratic Party at a caucus in San Leandro. Guillen supporters have raised gripes since that Bonta's campaign had used new party rules to procure the votes of delegates from Southern California. Bonta barely passed the 60 percent threshold for the endorsement.

Swanson's support, though, is not a total surprise. He voted for Bonta at Sunday's caucus, as did State Sen. Ellen Corbett. Swanson's exuberance for backing Bonta was evident when his office tweeted news of the endorsement late Wednesday night, including a photo of himself with the candidate. The tweet preceeded an annoucement an hour later on Facebook and Twitter.

On Thursday morning, Swanson said, "It has truly been an honor to represent the East Bay in the California State Assembly, and I am looking forward to passing the baton to a new leader to represent Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro.

Over the past several months, I have given serious consideration to the Democratic candidates running to succeed me. I have carefully considered their values, experience and vision for the future. It is now clear to me that Rob Bonta is the best choice for the California State Assembly."

Swanson's endorsement is a seen as a huge blow to Guillen's progressive credentials in an area where such an ideological worldview is a prerequisite for most politicians. During the primary season, there was a belief among many observers that Guillen was the most progressive candidate in the race that also once included AC Transit board member Joel Young. Many pointed to his position on moving the assets of the Peralta Community College from big banking insitutions to smaller community-based banks as proof of his stellar progressive chops. Nevertheless, Bonta won the June primary by six points over Guillen with over 36 percent of the vote.

One East Bay consultant, who is not working on either campaign in the 18th District, said Swanson's backing also lends credence to the idea the Democratic leadership in Sacramento is beginning to rally around Bonta as its potential newest member.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Without An Official Resignation, Starosciak Hinders City's Plans For Her Successor

SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | Near the conclusion of Monday night's lengthy council meeting in San Leandro, departing Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak recused herself from discussing how the city will move to replace her after she announced her intent July 2 to vacate the seat. Monday was Starosciak’s final meeting after 18 years in public service. As the night’s final agenda item was announced, Starosciak rose from her seat, cheerfully waved to city staff and walked off as her colleague jokingly teased her to stay.

The council is now left with how to replace Starosciak as a politically dicey proposition arises for filling the seat for, at most, three months, or, until voters decide on a new representative this fall. Starosciak was due to be termed out this November, but, there’s one big problem: Starosciak never officially resigned. It’s this fact that could leave the council and city hamstrung over the next few months.

Strarosciak announced she was moving to the Sacramento-area later this summer, but did not give a timetable for her departure outside of saying it was in her teenage children’s best interests to start the school year in their new digs. Starosciak, who professed a love for San Leandro—she was born and raised near the San Leandro Marina—said the residual sadness of losing the 2010 mayoral election was too much for her to bear.

Councilwoman Diana Souza, Starosciak’s main ally on the council, said Starosciak will likely formally resign upon the sale of her home in Washington Manor. “What I’m concerned about is we don’t have a statement that she is quitting,” said Mayor Stephen Cassidy. “I think if we have a conversation with her, I think we can succeed,” Souza added later after it became clear the council would be unable to proceed with creating a timeline for replacing Starosciak, since she never officially resigned.

There are two ways Starosciak could make it official, according to City Clerk Marian Handa. She could deliver a resignation letter or alert the city she has in fact changed her address to somewhere outside of the city. Even with a working schedule to advertise the open seat, procure candidates, interview them and make an appointment, a new council member would not be seated until September at the earliest. In addtion, the council, like others in the East Bay, will be on recess in August. The uncertainty over when to become the search will only push the schedule closer to October and leave the appointee to serve for only a short time.

What is clear, from Monday’s discussion, is that the council will indeed make an appointment and not conduct a special election. Some members were seeking to combine a special election with the November 6 general election. City Manager Jayne Williams said do so would violate the city’s charter. A special meeting may be held following the August recess during the week of Sept. 10 to revisit the appointment process, said Cassidy.

The list of possible applicants for the appointment may include two candidates slated to be on the ballot in November. Benny Lee and Chris Crow both told The Citizen Monday night they intend to apply for the appointment. Similar to the appointment process that occurred last June at the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to replace Nadia Lockyer, there may be some consternation over selecting a stated candidate for the seat. Doing so, some believe, will give the appointee a distinct advantage as an incumbent, if they chose to run in the November elections. Instead, the council may be interested in applicants more suited to act as a caretaker.

Other than Lee, Crow and possibly the third stated candidate, Darlene Daevu, the list of possible applicants include, former Councilman Bob Glaze; Bob Leigh and Marty Lantz from the Washington Manor Homeowners Association; and Mike Mahoney, who ran against Starosciak for the seat in 2004.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Meet The Candidates: Oakland City Council District 3

By SHANE BOND, The Citizen
Candidates searching for ways to reinvigorate Oakland's perennially underserved, but potentially vibrant neighborhoods surrounding West Oakland met last week to discuss their visions for the city at a candidates forum featuring a distinct environmental flavor.

District 3 candidates include, Damon Eaves, Lynette McElhaney, Alex Miller-Cole, Derrick Muhammed, Nyeisha Dewitt and Sean Sullivan. Each are looking to replace current District 3 Councilmember Nancy Nadel, who is not running for re-election.

Eaves is the director of Alameda County’s Oakland and Alameda Children’s Services. He is also the founding director of the Court Advocacy Project. Sullivan works for Covenant House, which serves homeless people and is board chair for the Khadafy Washington Foundation for Non-Violence.

Miller-Cole is a local businessman and McElhaney is an executive director of a local non-profit organization. Muhammed was a longshoreman for eight years and currently a commissioner on the Oakland Citizens Police Review Board. Dewitt is a program director for the Citywide Dropout Prevention and received her Master’s in teaching from University of San Francisco.

Questions posed by the Sierra Club last week reflected the group's goals concerning climate change, community choice aggregation (CCA) and urban farming. Affordable housing also was a topic of discussion posed by the environmental organization.

All candidates issued their support for CCA while advocating for its capacity to promote alternative energy and as Muhammed stated, “Its ability to break up the monopoly over energy that PG&E has.” Miller-Cole invited residents to think of ways to promote alternative energy use and drew on local environment opportunities to produce electricity such as wave turbines in the bay or solar power citing the “wonderful weather we have here all the time.”

Concerning urban farming the candidates supported widening the capacity and accessibility to farming local goods, but noted another issue in West Oakland. “West Oakland doesn’t have any grocery stores. We have liquor stores on every corner that use to be quality access to meat and dairy foods,” said DeWitt.

Muhammed agreed citing examples like KFC and donut shops as the food options in West Oakland rather than fresh fruits and vegetables. McElhaney drew attention from the crowd on housing calling the demand for affordable housing as a direct result of “broke folk.” McElhaney said to solve the affordable housing issue, what Oakland needs is more jobs. “It isn’t just jobs though but we also need to create a platform for people to start jobs,” said McElhaney, “We need to sensitize and prioritize so that we can provide solutions.”

Miller-Cole advocated for a day in which all Oakland residents could own a house telling attendees that right now is the perfect time to consider home ownership. “What you pay in rent turns out to be far more than what it cost to pay a mortgage,” said Miller-Cole. Sullivan differed in opinion from Miller-Cole stating that home ownership is not for everyone but noted how homeowners had been taken advantage, referencing to collapse of the mortgage market at the onset of the Great Recession.

“Let’s look at trying to keep people in the homes they already have,” said Sullivan who also said that the city should look at emergency and transitional housing as options for those currently homeless. Miller-Cole took issue with Sullivan’s argument and called him out later in the debate, “I beg to differ with Sean,” said Miller-Cole, “I came to this country from Mexico and did about everything to survive and I got to tell you that home ownership is for everyone.”

Meet The Candidates: Oakland City Council District 1

By SHANE BOND, The Citizen
Oakland City Council candidates gathered last week at the City Hall for a public forum hosted by the Sierra Club in partnership with the Oakland Climate Action Committee (OCAC). The forum marks one of the first opportunities for citizens to get a glimpse at their potential representatives vying for District 1. Candidates for District 3 tackles some of same issues later in the night.

The candidates for District 1 include Daniel Kalb, Amy Lemley, Richard Raya, Don Link. Donald Macleay, another candidate, was represented by campaign staffer Vicente Cruz during last week's debate, while Craig Brandt was unable to attend the event.

The District 1 candidates are hoping to replace Councilmember Jane Brunner, who is running for city attorney after 20 years of service on the Oakland City Council. District 1 encompasses much of North Oakland.

Kalb is an environmental advocate, policy analyst, progressive reformer and community service volunteer. He was recently the California Policy Director at the Union of Concerned Scientists and the former Chapter Director of the hosting organization, Sierra Club.

Lemley, a children’s advocate, is the founder of First Place Fund for Youth and served on the Measure Y Oversight Committee. She is also a member of the PTA and a room parent at Chabot Elementary.

Macleay is a Green party candidate, a machinist for 19 years, environmental and grassroots activist and exemplifies a three prong approach to Oakland issues tackling education, crime and employment. He emphasizes renewing and modernizing democracy and focusing on local economic upheaval by facilitating job growth.

Raya is an environmental advocate, former budget director for Alameda County and current policy director for California Forward.

Link is an electrical contractor for Controlled Energy, an Oakland-based company that has been in existence for 26 years. Energy efficiency and alternative energy choices are a cornerstone of his campaign for the city council seat.

The Sierra Club posed four main questions to the candidates first tackling Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) and PG&E’s tough stance against the initiative in recent years, highlighting their proposition 16 in 2010. Many candidates equally condemned Proposition 16, which PG&E sought to limit CCA’s grant aggregation of buying power of individual customers within a defined jurisdiction in order to secure alternative energy contracts.

The proposition went to vote in 2010 but failed to pass although the effort left PG&E as an apparent bulwark against the CCA initiative that some Oakland citizens actively advocate for. “I support East Bay MUD members to create a community choice aggregation but it is difficult when we have those who stand against it, such as PG&E,” said Kalb. He added it may be worthwhile to work with Oakland and Berkeley jurisdictions to create a CCA entity in the region.

Link emphasized a tough approach to PG&E’s grounded stance against CCAs.
“We can put PG&E’s feet to the fire,” said Link, “PG&E has gotten good at trying to fight this model but what we need to do is fight for more autonomy in the situation.” Raya said he didn’t see why East Bay MUD and PG&E would not be capable of working together with the city to further energy efficiency and independence. “I don’t know anybody in the Bay Area who wouldn’t want to work toward that goal,” said Raya.

Lemley advocated for a democratic choice over energy efficiency needs and sought CCAs as a method to acquire that privilege, but Cruz questioned why the city did not just transfer the work. “PG&E and East Bay MUD aren’t even really a part of this community,” said Cruz in protest to competing candidates’ arguments. “The work should maybe just go to bio-fuel centers in Berkeley.”

Candidates also praised Oakland’s urban farming and advocated for further growth and expansion of the farming initiative emphasizing the capacity of individual ownership and business opportunity it brought to local citizens. Link criticized the cost of a conditional use permit calling them overly expensive, ranging in the thousands, to run an urban farm. Link noted the healthy food the urban farms could produce and their ability to foster individual business growth. Cruz, representing Macleay, added that urban farming could cut down on the traffic by stemming the flow of trucks shipping goods from Fresno to Oakland thus reducing the environmental effect on local citizens.

Lemley supported urban farming but stopped short of animal slaughter citing her experiences growing up on a farm in Iowa. Lemley also praised her own history by working with people who turned 18 and coming out of foster care to get stable living. “Hundreds of youth have been able to move into affordable housing, almost 2/3 are tenants,” said Lemley to applause and “whoot whoots” echoing from Causa Justa members in the audience, a social and political activist group based in Oakland.
Other candidates advocated for more rent control to help sustain tenants in an economic climate that has hit Oakland hard.

Crime in Oakland continues to be a topic of discussion repeatedly brought up by candidates with Cruz lashing out against America’s jailing of minorities. “It’s not even Jim Crow anymore, its slavery!” shouted Cruz, “half of our clothes are made in jails.” Candidates widely praised David M. Kennedy’s CEASEFIRE program that was first enacted in Chicago in the mid-90’s to great success prompting media to call it the “Chicago Miracle.” Candidates mentioned Oakland’s flirtation with the model that was recently thrown into the limelight via Kennedy’s release of his book and memoir, “Don’t Shoot.”

AstroTurf Or Not, Residents In Dublin Begin Nascent Recall Campaign Against Swalwell

ELECTION '12//CONGRESS 15 | A long-rumored campaign to recall Dublin Councilman Eric Swalwell now has a web site and a bully pulpit.

The unidentified site makes no mention to a specific group behind the recall campaign, but lays out a litany of charges against Swalwell, a Democrat, who is also running this November for Congress in the 15th District seat currently held Rep. Pete Stark, another Democrat.

Calling Swalwell a "quid pro quo politician," the site makes numerous reference to the first-term councilman's controversial ties to housing developers, some who are also large donors to Swalwell's campaign. "Eric Swalwell will work hard for land developers, but not you," it reads. As far back as last fall, there had been numerous references to localize dissatisfaction with Swalwell's recent decisions in Dublin. Some home owners in Dublin have viewed the city's coziness with developers as detrimental to their own financial interests. Swalwell, 31, was elected to the City Council in 2010.

Although it is not clear whether the recall campaign has a legitimate aim or merely an AstroTurf group hoping to sully Swalwell's image as his campaign faces considerable pressure from Stark and the entrenched Democratic Party in Alameda County to thwart his efforts to beat the 40-year incumbent this November. However, many of the specific gripes are some of the same issued by AroundDublinBlog, a local web site that has long been a critic of Swalwell's ties to land developers in the Tri-Valley area, including the controversial project known as "The Promenade."

That particular project--highlighted on the Recall Swalwell site--was infamously referenced by Stark during a candidates forum last April in Hayward. Stark charged Swalwell with accepting campaign donations from Charter Properties, the land developer behind The Promenade project, in exchange for rezoning the property from commercial to medium to high density residential homes. Stark, however, characterized the alleged arrangement as a "bribe" to great outcry from his opponents

Just a day before announcing his run for Congress last September, Swalwell gained the considerable ire of over 200 Dublin residents at a Sept. 20, 2011 council meeting who opposed the rezoning deal for fear it would further diminishing their homes' value with greater inventory at the housing project. Swalwell approved the rezoning deal despite the city's mayor recusing himself from the council's decision, but oddly appeared in chambers as a public speaker in opposition to the plan.

STARK TRAVELS TO THE BELLY OF THE BEAST With less than four months before the November 6 general election, Rep. Pete Stark is traveling to the eastern edge of his current 13th Congressional District (redistricting will recast the seat as the 15th next year).

Stark will hold his monthly town hall meeting this Saturday at the Pleasanton City Hall chambers at 9 a.m. The new 15th District will include more of the Tri-Valley, including Pleasanton, Dublin, Livermore and a portion of San Ramon in Contra Costa County. The hour-long town hall will surely be a test for the Stark, who has been hounded by some reporters more interested in whether he utters a curt sentence or two over the substance of his race against fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell.

Pleasanton may be Swalwell's home base, but the meeting could become additionally raucous if typically aggressive Tea Party members join the fray. It's definitely a combustible situation. However, those more interested in a sedate Saturday morning of government civics can catch Stark's second meeting in Union City at 11 a.m. (For more info, click here.)

Stark Urges USOC To Manufacture Olympic Uniforms In The U.S.; Not China

CONGRESS | Rep. Pete Stark is leading a bipartisan call for the U.S. Olympic Committee to use American textile workers to manufacture the uniforms its 530 athletes will wear during the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympic Games on July 27.

In a letter to the USOC Tuesday, Stark and 58 other members of Congress urged the governing body to urge the makers of the uniforms, The Ralph Lauren Corporation, to use American worker to construct the blue blazer and white pant ensemble. News reports last week revealed the outfits were made in China.

"At a time when so many Americans are still searching for work, it is offensive that the USOC would not support our workers and their families by manufacturing the uniforms here," said the letter sent to the CEO of the USOC Scott Blackmun. "These American companies are capable of making these uniforms at competitive prices," the letter went on to say. "Hard working Americans should have the privilege of manufacturing uniforms for Team USA."

Stark, who is running for re-election in the contested 15th Congressional District said, "We don't outsource the athletes who represent the United States in the Olympics and we shouldn't outsource the manufacturing of Team USA's uniforms. The fact that our American uniforms were made in China is a glaring reminder that we've gotten away from a core value: our country's success is built on the innovation and industriousness of the American worker. When we deviate from that, we fail. That is why we're calling on the U.S. Olympic Committee to reflect these values and ensure that Team USA's uniforms are made in America."

The USOC's decision to dress its athletes in uniforms made in China has raised cackles throughout the country and the halls of Congress. Last weekend, Ralph Lauren said it had heard the criticism over the uniforms, but will not begin using U.S. textile companies until the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Russia.