EAST BAY CITIZEN. EVERYWHERE SINCE 2009
>

THE NEW EBCITIZEN COMING NEXT YEAR

.

'GENERATIONAL HAND-OFF' IN OAKLAND

Oakland Mayor-elect Libby Schaaf in her first press conference pledged support for bringing business to East Oakland, keeping sports teams in town.

SPENCER POSTS SUPRISE VICTORY IN ALAMEDA

Eight days after Election Day, Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore concedes victory Trish Spencer, a member of the school board.

>

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

House-By-House Bonta Finds A Fearful Oakland Yearning For Help

ELECTION ‘12//ASSEMBLY 18//PROFILE | “I have to warn him about libertarians,” Jim Oddie said to me as Rob Bonta trotted up the stairs of old Victorian on 18th Street in Oakland. Bonta was introducing himself to a household of likely voters, albeit, of vastly different political bents. “They’ll keep talking to Rob for forever and then bring up the Second Amendment,” Oddie remarked. Bonta smiled knowingly when I brought up the notoriously chatty political subset and Oddie's admonition. “It’s a libertarian. Let’s cut it short, ok?” Bonta recalls, repeating his staffer’s time-saving refrain. But, he enjoys the banter, yet the conversation invariably veers into the philosophical realm. “If your house is on fire, who’s going to take care of it?” Bonta said as he high-tailed to the next home on their voter list.

Next week’s election for the up-for-grabs 18th Assembly District seat, though, is not about what political stripes you wear, as Bonta sees it. It’s about a palpable fear among many Oaklanders that simply walking outside their front door is as much a danger as smoking three packs a day for 20 years and devouring 4 Big Macs everyday for a week. After months of walking door-to-door and proselytizing his message, there is no doubt, he says, that public safety is at the forefront of Oakland’s collective consciousness. “I hear a lot of people who tell me they have had their home broken into,” said Bonta, “and that they question whether they can live here. These are diehard Oaklanders that are having an internal struggle whether they should stick around or leave.”

“I don’t have too many friends who have a job in Oakland,” laments Anthony Wilson, an 18-year-old recent high school graduate.
_____

The neighborhood around San Antonio Park in Oakland seems safe, at least, on this sun-drenched early Saturday afternoon. Yet the unconscious fear of residents, many Hispanic and Vietnamese, is spoken without words, but in rows and rows of homes fortified with iron fences of varying colors and barricaded windows. The cacophony of barking emanating from the throats of very large dogs is all you hear. The fences are the visual warning; the dogs, the audible one. As we wind around to 16th Avenue at 4 p.m., however, the residents appearing as sentinels begin to peek out their windows or peer through the bars that close off their porches to visitors. Dusk is coming and people around here know the night gives cover to the bad guys. There is much distrust on this street. Even a smiling, well-coifed Assembly candidate stocked with a stack of campaign brochures featuring the same smiling guy cannot be trusted. An older Vietnamese woman tending to her garden sees us coming. She stops what she’s doing and hurriedly padlocks her dilapidated chain-link fence.

Rob Bonta on 18th Avenue Oct. 27 in Oakland.
It’s not always like this, said Bonta, although he recalled a humorous moment at a gated community housing complex months ago on Seminary Avenue. “You’re not going to rob anyone, are you?” said the administrator. “Nah,” said Bonta before rustling up about six new voters. Bonta’s likability index is quite high. In fact, outside of a small band of vocal dissidents in Alameda, it’s very difficult to find someone who truly dislikes the guy. He’s smooth, funny, shows genuine empathy, has nice hair, is progressive with a pinch of ethnicity and touts a pitch-perfect family. If a political scientist sought to create the perfect candidate for the East Bay, the end result would be Bonta. However, the Bonta we see today sitting pretty as the likely winner of next week’s election bears little resemblance to the nervous, somewhat unsure candidate of just nine months ago. During a particularly inclement night at a forum in Chinatown last April, Bonta, while clasping the microphone like it was a crucifix between his praying hands, he hit all of the notes, altough his political guitar seemed a bit out of tune and not without a litany of fits and starts and a chorus of “ums.” His mother, sitting directly in front of me, whispered encouragement to nobody in particular and reminded her son of neglected talking points of which he could not have possibly heard. That guy doesn’t exist anymore. In fact, Bonta’s opponent in the general election, Abel Guillen, has followed the same amazing trajectory from a babbling, bumbling mess to quite an impressive candidate, himself.

*****

“What are their names,” Bonta quickly asked Oddie, who fired off four names.

“Kenny, Moe, Robert and Steve,” Bonta repeated. “All Democrats?”

“Robert is a Republican,” said Oddie just as Bonta rang the doorbell and knocked on the door.

Both have been walking precincts together for months now and their teamwork is more intuitive than anything. Even hard to pronounce Vietnamese names with no Anglo indicator of their gender isn't problem for this well-oiled machine. They’re like Montana to Rice, Manning to Harrison, a no-look pass in traffic from Magic Johnson to a trailing James Worthy for the dunk. It also includes some good-natured ribbing from Bonta. After spending a few minutes with an enthusiastic potential voter, Bonta zeroed in on closing the deal. “Can we put a sign in front of your house?” he asked the woman, who agreed and instructed them to place it in front of the tree dominating the front of her home. “You might need a hammer or something,” she said, “because the ground is hard.” Oddie intimated they would make do somehow and added digging the sign’s metal tines into the earth was easier next to cracks along the concrete border. “There’s no crack in front of the tree?” the woman yelled out in mock anger. “Yeah, Jim!” interjected Bonta, while using his partner as a foil, “Why aren’t you listening?!”

*****

Around the corner sits Anthony Wilson. He's 18 and graduated last year from Skyline High School. On this sunny Saturday afternoon he’s quietly parked on the stoop smoking a cigarette. He tell us this will be his first time voting. It’s the first and only time we witness how the future looks not to three guys nearing their 40s, but how it looks for many young Americans like Wilson. “It’s not too often we get people running for office coming around here,” says the affable African American teenager. There is already despair on his face and that’s the most troubling aspect of Anthony Wilson. Slap a black-and-white filter over this portrait of Wilson sitting on the porch with his sad, vacant eyes and exchange his designer hoodie for a heavy leather coat and it’s no different than the ghostly images of Depression-era laborers in long lines looking for work many generations ago. “I don’t have too many friends who have a job in Oakland,” he laments. He has already seen two girls, with whom he graduated with last year, offering themselves to johns on International Boulevard, he says.

Bonta seemed particular affected by his meeting with Wilson and offered his personal business card. It’s a gesture he offered no other person, at least, on this particular day. “It gives detail and reality to what we’re saying in this campaign,” Bonta said later. In particular, he said, human trafficking is a major public policy problem. “But when you hear these stories, it puts meat on the bone. It’s why we’re focusing on public safety because we hear about it from voters all the time.”

Just as Bonta was finishing his time with Wilson, the young man's sister opened the door and popped her head through the small opening. “I know you!,” she said to Bonta. “I recognize your voice from the TV! I came out to see, is this for real?!” While Bonta moved on to the next house, I stayed to ask Wilson some questions. “I actually saw his commercial on TV, too,” he coyly said. “But I didn’t want to say anything. I wanted to see what he had to say first.” Did you like what he said, I asked? To which Wilson pulled a drag of his cigarette and said, “He’s got my vote.”

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Robocall Shows Swalwell Courting Tri Valley Republican Voters

Guy Houston
ELECTION ‘12//CONGRESS 15 | What has long been suspected is now true. Eric Swalwell is indeed playing footsie with Tri Valley Republicans.

A robocall obtained by The Citizen shows Swalwell targeting conservative voters with the help of former Republican Assemblyman Guy Houston, who vouches for the Democrats' moderate credentials.

[LISTEN to the robocall below.]

Since they are no Republicans on the ballot for the 15th Congressional race between Rep. Pete Stark and Swalwell, Houston says, “I believe our best and only choice is Eric Swalwell on Nov. 6.”

“Eric is a moderate,” intones Houston, also a former Dublin mayor. Later in the minute-long message, Houston adds, Swalwell “has the energy and new ideas to work with people of any party to solve our problems.”

Most have long believed Swalwell’s best chance to unseat Stark would lie in courting Republicans and independents in the district and primarily in its newly redrawn portions in the Tri Valley area.

The robocall, however, is the clearest example yet of Swalwell’s intent to shift the district from a long-time progressive enclave into a more moderate, Blue Dog Democratic vote in Congress.


Contributor Tied To Swalwell Pay-To-Play Allegation Making Moves In San Leandro, Too

Gordon Galvan
ELECTION '12//SAN LEANDRO | The East Bay political fixer involved in the Eric Swalwell Dublin pay-to-play allegations is also trying to make a mark in his old stomping grounds, San Leandro.

Gordon Galvan has been busy writing checks, according to recent finance reports, while attaching himself personally and with other groups to races in San Leandro this fall, although recent events have brought his past, marred with political upheaval, to public light.

For Galvan, playing his sometimes controversial hand in local politics isn’t new considering his past stint on San Leandro City Council a decade ago and his $11,250 fine in 2003 for violating 10 counts of the state's Fair Political Practices Act. His recent no-bid contract with the City of Dublin after he and his associates at AVI gave thousands to congressional candidate, Eric Swalwell, is now known, but he is also involved with three financially influential bodies in the San Leandro city council race.

Galvan has donated to no other candidate other than Morgan Mack-Rose for District 2. She was recently caught in a blatant lie about Ursula Reed receiving an iPad on taxpayer’s money. The city’s IT department, however, said it was not true. Galvan donated a total of $2,250 to Mack-Rose’s campaign between August, 17 and September, 27.

Many in San Leandro believe Galvan is using this election to become a big player in local politics through his fundraising and contacts. In addition, to the contribution to Mack-Rose's campaign, large especially for San Leandro council races, Galvan has also dropped $5,000 on Swalwell and attempted to set up an independent expenditure committee to help Swalwell, although, finance reports show no activity since its start in late August. Gordon is also involved with fundraising for Measure L, San Leandro's school parcel tax initiative, even though his father-in-law's powerful real estate interests are the measure's lone official opposition. Both Mack-Rose and Crow are both staunch supporters of Measure L. In an interview for the Swalwell pay-to-play story, Galvan admitted fundraising for Measure L was not going as well as planned.

Furthermore, Galvan is the chairman of the newly formed San Leandro Chamber of Commerce’s PAC and also happens to be on its three-person board of directors. Mack-Rose worked for the chamber for a short time last year while sitting concurrently as the school district's board president. Thus far the Chamber has donated some of the larger sums of cash in the San Leandro election, opting for the skilled and experienced incumbent Jim Prola in District 6 over school board trustee Hermy Almonte but also funding candidates Chris Crow (District 4) and Mack-Rose.
 
Crow has also encountered trouble this election season when he was caught by The Citizen lying about his warrant for marijuana possession, his endorsement from Wilma Chan, and recent controversy over his Facebook comments about Chinese Olympic athletes that some in San Leandro’s Asian community considered racist. The young candidate though did receive substantial amount of funds from the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce’s new PAC. The PAC has given $1,000 to Crow and Prola in the last reporting period but for Mack-Rose they have given a total of $5,000 over the course of two reporting periods.

Galvan has also been affiliated with the ominous political San Leandro group, The Sentinels, that date back to the early 1970’s and was the political apparatus of Old San Leandro and the late and powerful Mayor Jack Maltester. However, their power has waned greatly over the years. Members of The Sentinels usually donate sums of money quarterly at $125 although a few exceed that amount. Galvan’s money is just one small component that makes up the large sums that are dished out in local elections. In recent financial filings, Galvan’s name is absent, but other financial contributors include the recently deceased Dale Reed, Robert Jones of Robert Jones & Associates, Tom Dlugosh of Dlugosh Cabinets, and among others. The Sentinels have given their sole endorsement and money to Mack-Rose totaling at $2,500.

Additional reporting by Steven Tavares.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Anti-Hayashi PAC Plans Late Election Mailer; Records Show It Has No Money

ELECTION '12//ALCO SUPERVISOR DIST 2 | The Sacramento Political Action Committee with it sights set on thwarting Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi’s smooth sailing campaign for Alameda County supervisor has a rather comical and viciously biting name, but no money, as of yet.

The group, using the short name, Morals PAC, according to a story today in the San Francisco Chronicle officially calls itself, “Hayashi for Alameda [County] Supervisor 2012, Morals PAC: Masses organizing research against lying & stealing opposing Mary,” according to the Secretary of State’s campaign finance database.

One of the group’s leaders told Matier & Ross to expect a large mailer attacking Hayashi’s October 2011 shoplifting charge. The campaign mailer, according to the Chronicle, is a riff on the famous movie poster of Cameron Diaz in “There’s Something About Mary.” But, according to campaign finance reports, Morals PAC has yet to file any transactions, including any designated as late contributions through Monday, Oct. 29.

Expect the forthcoming piece to be wickedly satirical. The same group has lampooned Hayashi in the past with a series of comics. However, time is running out for any strong push by opponents to highlight Hayashi’s infamous brush with the law. In the meantime, some very vocal supporters for appointed Supervisor Richard Valle are still clamoring for him to drop Hayashi’s brutal mugshot on unsuspecting District 2 voters. With nearly a week to go, it is increasingly more likely this won’t happen, not only from Valle’s campaign or any other independent rival of Hayashi.

Exhibit One, Two For Why The East Bay Resides In A Unique Political Bubble

ELECTION ‘12//OAKLAND DISTRICT 3 | Pedro Rios is the Republican candidate for the 32nd Assembly District in Kern County. He waxes romantically about his up-from-the-boot-straps rise from the fields of the Central Valley to hopefully a seat in the State Legislature. It’s standard conservative “I built that” bullshit that resonates with many in rural California towns. Except, the Republican candidate never mentioned he came to the United States as nine-year-old undocumented immigrant. Rios didn’t mention it because it strays far from GOP’s talking points that ostensibly demonize such people for all its ills and, also, that he opposes the DREAM Act, which if enacted in his pre-teen years, would have greatly helped him in particular.

There is quite a bit of race politics and hypocrisy in this story, but it also shows how progressives in Oakland and the East Bay, as a whole, live in a completely different political environment. Oakland District 3 City Council candidate Alex Miller-Cole also arrived in America as an undocumented immigrant. He doesn’t always mention this fact, but he has not entirely shielded it from the public, either. Miller-Cole offered his immigrant story at a few candidates’ forums over the past few months, including his arrival as a teenager to success in business to his citizenship just a few years ago. Anywhere else and Miller-Cole’s autobiography would be a revelation worthy of an expose and attempts by opponents to ding him as “not from here.” Instead, the disclosure is just as unimportant as how Miller-Cole enjoys his morning coffee.

With a large ethnic population in Oakland, taking shots at Miller-Cole’s path to citizenship is a risky political move. But, maybe it should be examined more fully for other reasons. Alex Miller-Cole is not his real name. His odd mixture of Anglo names, he says, comes from urgings by a former business colleague to change his name to something more palatable to rich white folks and by marriage. It is not exactly odd for people to change their names when they become U.S. citizens, but politically, it opens voters to ask themselves, “What is he hiding from?”

In emails to supporters, Miller-Cole has also trumpeted creating his first “corporation” as a young man in his 20s. Some of Miller-Cole’s critics have done the math and wonder how an undocumented immigrant could have been so successful on his own in the business world when the legality of his residency would have been in great question.

And then, there’s this somewhat paranoid and ultimately ironic tale. When I asked Miller-Cole about his unique immigrant tale a few months back and how long it had been since he became a citizen, he claimed one of his opponents for the District 3 seat this fall had been snooping into his background and making secret inquiries into his illegal residency status. Later in this cloak and dagger story, he accused Sean Sullivan and his surrogates of perpetrating pressure against him that became part of the impetus leading him to citizenship.

Some may recall this was the same setting where Miller-Cole referred to Sullivan as an “asshole” and later questioned Sullivan’s loyalty to the No on Prop. 8 movement. Sullivan often mentions his participation in fundraising for the No on Prop. 8 campaign, yet Miller-Cole downplayed his opponent’s sincerity for the cause. As Miller-Cole sees it, he righteously heeded the call of Beyonce, and all the single ladies, and told his partner to “put a ring on it,” while Sullivan chose not to, at least, for now. “Maybe he’s not ready to make a commitment,” I said to Miller-Cole that evening in West Oakland, to which he smiled and shrugged.

In the meantime, folks in Kern County would have been foaming at the mouth and pulling clumps of hair out of head in anger over a candidate who not only was an undocumented immigrant, but also one who kisses men! Oh, dear!

Council Candidate Releases Music Video; Lays Crushing Open-Field Tackle On Crime

ELECTION '12//CAMPAIGN VIDEOS | When it comes to campaign videos, this election season has been an embarrassment. No Oscar speeches here come next February. Eric Swalwell’s campaign for the 15th Congressional District, by itself, could fill an entire category at the Razzies. And it’s going to take a long time for him to live down the colossally stupid 12-minute video featuring Swalwell debating a young actor playing an old Rep. Pete Stark, likely approved by campaign manager Lisa Tucker. Some even believe Stark won the debate.

Of course, there are inherent risks with campaign videos, if not done professionally. No matter the message, poor lighting and audio can make even Brad Pitt look bad. Even worse, poor videography can make a campaign look cheap and amateurish. That’s certainly happened with Swalwell’s collage of videos over the year, but it doesn’t happen to everyone.

San Leandro District 4 City Council candidate Justin Hutchison, hoping to create some buzz for his low-budget campaign, released a music video this weekend that on the face of it sounded like a cringe-worthy idea. However, it’s executed quite well. Even featuring a hilarious, if not, superb open-field tackle by Hutchison of a thief stealing a woman’s purse at the San Leandro Marina. There’s even a narrative in the video. The thief, I’m told, represents rising crime in San Leandro. In the end, Hutchison gets the crook help. Tough on crime, but with a liberal bent, right?



These type of music videos are not without precedent. During Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s campaign in 2010, she released a well-produced and catchy music video called, “Block By Block.” Be careful. I mean it when I say catchy.

California Republican Senate hopeful Elizabeth Emken, another whose campaign has screamed and hollered over the incumbent’s disinterest for debates, uncorked a well done short video based upon the theme Swalwell was trying to achieve in his Stark stand-in clip, but far more compelling. Using special effects, Emken appeared to be debating a 12-year-old archive video of her opponent, Sen. Dianne Feinstein. It’s short and sweet and captures your attention. The problem, however, is its timing. Like Swalwell, who continues to talk about debates even at this late stage, you are left to wonder whether Emken, a Danville native, is running solely for a chance to sit at a desk and debate Feinstein or is she campaigning for U.S. Senate?

For publicity and kitcsh, however, nobody can beat former San Leandro mayoral candidate Sara Mestas gyrating in this video two years ago. It's San Leandro , people. What can I say? Coincidentally, she’s now a Swalwell donor. Maybe she can loan Swalwell her dancers, in-kind?


Friday, October 26, 2012

East Bay Assembly Races Ready Spending Spree For Election's Final Days

ELECTION ‘12//CAMPAIGN FINANCE | The final pre-election finance reports for the East Bay's Assembly District’s 18 and 20 follow a consistent trend: less money in Oakland and breathtaking spending in Hayward.

ASSEMBLY 18 Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta goes into the final two weeks of the general election with more than three times the amount of cash on hand as Peralta Community College Trustee Abel Guillen.

Bonta reported $90,028 in cash remaining with $63,025 in contribution during the short pre-election filing window of Oct. 1 to Oct. 20. Guillen, however, reported just $27,819 in the bank following $32,584 in contributions, according to campaign finance reports.

Both campaign spent roughly the same amount this month—Bonta with $93,529, Guillen with $91,628.

Guillen’s financial disadvantage, a consistent problem throughout the campaign, is exacerbated recently by independent expenditure committees who have added nearly $100,000 in pro-Bonta mailers. One recent mailing paid by IECs featured a side-by-side comparison of Bonta’s support for community safety. While Bonta's side features a long list, the other, under the heading of Guillen, shows a blank list.

ASSEMBLY 20 In these two Assembly races, following the money is easy. It’s all in the 20th Assembly District, covering Hayward and the Tri Cities.

Former Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk raked in $132,609 in contribution between Oct. 1 and Oct. 20, according to campaign finance reports, while spending $109,007 during the same period. Dr. Jennifer Ong reported just $60,812 in contributions, although she vastly outspent Quirk with $168,288 in expenditures.

When it comes to money in the bank, Quirk’s $138,822 in cash represents a significant lead over Ong’s reported $32,406. But, that comes nowhere near telling the story in this race when it comes to real dollars and cents.

An avalanche of money from independent expenditure committees continue to flow in favor of Ong. Primarily from special interests advocating limits on medical malpractice, Ong’s actually financial situation is far rosier than Quirk’s. In fact, after another flurry of mailers this week from IECs, Ong has been the beneficiary of almost 600,000 in special interest money since the start of her campaign.

Conversely, most expect the local Democratic Party to blunt some of the IEC’s support for Ong in the last 10 days. Quirk is the party’s preferred candidate over Ong, also a Democrat. In addition, Quirk is also fortifying his war chest. He reported a personal loan of $60,000 last week, according to campaign finance filings. Over the course of his entire campaign, Quirk has donated a total of $166,000 to his own campaign.

Swanson Endorses Another In Oakland's District 3

ELECTION '12//OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL D3 | Oakland District 3 City Council candidate Alex Miller-Cole announced the endorsement of Assemblyman Sandre Swanson today in an email to supporters. The progressive champion's backing, however, has also been bestowed upon District 3 candidates Sean Sullivan and Nyeisha DeWitt.

“To have the endorsement of such a legendary leader is truly humbling, particularly one with such deep ties to Oakland,” Miller-Cole said in the announcement.

The progressive backing from Swanson follows a dual endorsement for Miller-Cole from the current District 3 Councilmember Nancy Nadel, who has always spread her love around to various candidates.

[VIDEO] Stark, Swalwell; Dem-On-Dem Action; Pay-To-Pay Allegations

ELECTION '12//CONGRESS 15 | Check out my appearance Thursday on American Liberal with Ted Asragadoo on TradioV.com discussing the 15th Congressional District race between Rep. Pete Stark and Eric Swalwell and my story on pay-to-play allegations in Dublin featured in this week's East Bay Express. My interview leads off the program.

Also, the Swalwell story hit the front page of the Huffington Post's politics section. News aggregator Arriana Huffington owes me money.



Video streaming by Ustream

Hayashi Is A Yes Woman, After The Fact

ELECTION ‘12//ASSEMBLY/ALCOD2 | Is Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi like one of those sports fans who become supporters of teams once they become winners?

An Associated Press article Thursday showed California legislators altered over 5,000 votes this past session. Hayashi led the way with 291 missed or changed votes, according to AP. Most of the missed votes were later entered as aye votes, they reported.

The report is similar to an investigation by the Sacramento Bee in April 2011 finding Hayashi was the fourth most prolific voter in the Assembly. That report did not take into account, some of the votes may have been entered after the fact. Doing so is within the state’s rules, but a topic of derision to many open government proponents who say it distorts legislator’s true record and allows them to play both sides of controversial bills.

Hayashi is termed out of the Assembly this November and is currently running for Alameda County supervisor. Will her opponent, appointed Supervisor Richard Valle, use Hayashi’s poor attendance record against her during the final 10 days of the election? You would think so, but keep in mind Valle’s inaction when it comes to publicly attacking Hayashi’s shoplifting conviction head on, you never know.

Lee In The Running For House Democrats' Vice Chair Post

ELECTION ‘12//CONGRESS | Republican Thirteenth Congressional District candidate Marilyn Singleton must be saying, “Hey, wait a minute!”

Numerous Beltway publications are reporting Rep. Barbara Lee is angling with at least two other House Democrats for the party's vice chairperson post in the next Congress.

The Oakland congresswoman is not exactly in a tight race this November. Lee topped Singleton and another unknown candidate with 83 percent of the primary vote last June.

However, Lee will have far more arduous campaign to the gain the party’s vice chairmanship, the fifth-highest leadership position among House Democrats. According to The Hill and Roll Call, Reps. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) are also openly campaigning fellow House members. The vice chair slot is currently held by Southern California Rep. Xavier Bacerra.

The early politicking and an announcement this week by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi she will hold leadership election Nov. 29 is raising eyebrows. Such elections are normally held much closer to the last election and the three week gap has some believing Pelosi will step down from atop the House Democrats’ perch.

Politico reported Thursday Pelosi’s rationale, however, is to give other Democrats, possibly complaining ones, a chance to enter their names for consideration for the various leadership posts.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mary Hayashi: The Comeback Kid?

ELECTION '12//ALCO SUPERVISOR DIST 2 | Sometime before Richard Valle was appointed to replace disgraced Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer in June, Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi was already lurking in the background, gauging political support in advance of her likely campaign this fall. However, conventional wisdom quickly coalesced around the belief that her run for District 2 supervisor would be dead on arrival. After all, she was convicted of shoplifting last year. Just plaster her mugshot on billboards and mailers, many said this summer, and witness the final chapter of Hayashi's once promising career.

But now suddenly Hayashi appears to have a decent shot in the race. The reason? Valle has been reticent about confronting her in public about the conviction. In addition, Hayashi has put together a string of well-honed and aggressive criticisms of Valle. As a result, what seemed impossible several months ago could actually come true on November 6: Hayashi might win this thing.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE IN THE EAST BAY EXPRESS

The Real Eric Swalwell Revealed

ELECTION '12//CONGRESS 15 | On June 5, just hours after casting a vote for himself in the East Bay's 15th Congressional District primary against incumbent Congressman Pete Stark, Dublin City Councilman Eric Swalwell voted to approve a no-bid, monopoly contract to a local garbage company while members of that firm's upper management sat in attendance. Swalwell, however, never publicly disclosed that those four top-level employees of Amador Valley Industries were large contributors to his congressional campaign in the months before the deal. Also in attendance was a consultant for the garbage company who not only had recently donated to Swalwell, but also has a history of violating campaign finance laws...

CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE IN THE EAST BAY EXPRESS

Monday, October 22, 2012

Even With Eden Healthcare District's Uncertain Future, It May Seek Parcel Tax Next Year

SAVE SAN LEANDRO HOSPITAL | If Sutter Health gets its way, the Eden Township Healthcare District may cease to exist sooner than later. But, that is not stopping the District’s elected leaders from searching for revenue to keep San Leandro Hospital open. One avenue may be a local parcel tax. Noted Oakland campaign strategist Larry Tramutola says his findings show the public is favorable to such a tax, but that the health care district has also done a poor job of building public awareness of its function and plight.

Tramutola told the District board last week, 88 percent of likely voters supported a general tax to help the local health care system. Hayward residents were easily the most supportive with 77 percent, followed by San Leandro, 66 percent; and Union City, 65 percent. A two-thirds majority is needed for any tax measure to pass.

However, the District is not just an afterthought in the minds of local residents, but virtually invisible. Fifty-five percent of likely voters have never heard of the health care district, said Tramutola. Twenty-four percent were aware, but had no opinion, while 18 percent had a favorable opinion and just 3 percent unfavorable.

“A lot has shifted,” Tramutola said since the initial polling, “and a lot will shift in the next few months.” The District’s unsuccessful lawsuit with Sutter Health is not yet final. Potential damages may still be awarded to Sutter following the suit eventually forcing the District to award title to San Leandro Hospital.

A source tells The Citizen Sutter may demand damages from the District that includes a portion of its stake in Dublin Gateway Center and the San Leandro Surgery Center on East 14th Street. Such a transfer could have debilitating effects on the District’s future cash flow. Furthermore, it could stymie the District from any potential deal to fund part of San Leandro Hospital’s operating expenses over the next two years and beyond. A pledge last week offered half of the District’s cash flow over the next two years for potentially operating the hospital under the Alameda County Medical Center. The loss of Dublin Gateway and the surgery center could severely undercut the District’s ability to contribute to the ACMC endeavor, still pending negotiations with the county, Sutter, ACMC and the city of San Leandro.

Even if a parcel tax were successful in the District sometime in the future, it may not generate enough revenue, said Tramutola. At over 25,000 taxable properties, a manageable $50 parcel tax only generates $1.5 million annually, he said. There is also the possibility of working with leaders in San Leandro to help rescue their community hospital. Tramutola said city leaders may be cool to the idea.

In addition, a source tells The Citizen some District leaders have recently been unimpressed by San Leandro’s lack of effort for contributing to the costs of running the hospital in the future. The criticism is nothing new. Despite San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy raising the profile of the hospital’s uncertain future and becoming an advocate for its survival, like his predecessors and current council members, the city has taken a hands off approach when it comes to passing around the hat. Tramutola said the District needs to take its case directly to San Leandro residents, most of whom have little idea what can be done to save their hospital.“Most are dreadfully unaware of what’s going on.”

Hayashi's Hayward Billboard Shows Campaign Finance Creativity

ELECTION ‘12//ALCO SUPERVISOR DISTRICT 2 | Even as the Alameda County Board of Supervisors enacted limits on campaign fundraising last year, they never imagined a candidate with as many connections as Mary Hayashi.

A large billboard towering over Foothill Boulevard and B Street in downtown Hayward featuring Hayashi’s smiling visage is proving there are many ways around the county’s $20,000 fundraising limits.

The bright red billboard, although it may feature Hayashi, is not directly associated to her campaign for Alameda County District 2 supervisor. “’Please join me and California’s Teachers,’” the sign reads, instead. “Vote No on Prop 32.” Furthermore, the billboard references the ad is paid for by, “Building California’s Future, Mary Hayashi’s Ballot Measure Committee.”

Similar accounts are used by many members of the Legislature to support or oppose local and state ballot initiatives. Hayashi’s account listed over $14,000 in cash on hand, according to campaign finance reports ending Sept. 30. A late expenditure report filed last week showed a $6,500 contribution to Working Californians to Oppose Prop. 32 for a billboard last month. In addition, Hayashi filed a late expenditure report Oct. 18 from her 2010 Assembly account showing a transfer of $50,000 to her ballot measure account, the same committee that paid for the billboard.

An ordinance authored by Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty passed last year placed a $20,000 limit on contributions from a single committee or person. Many believed the impetus for the ordinance was to avoid another instance, such as Bill Lockyer’s $1.8 million transfer of fundraising in 2010 from his treasurer’s campaign account to his wife, Nadia Lockyer’s war chest. Critics, though, contend the ordinance was more geared to the board’s bid to ensure self-preservation by making it unlikely they would ever face a challenger with as much power in the future.

While there is nothing illegal about the transfers, they do speak to the volume of creative ways around local, state and federal finance laws. In this case, Hayashi can raise her profile among Hayward voters with the billboard purportedly supporting the no campaign against Prop. 32 while hinting at her aspirations for supervisor next month. Some of Hayashi’s critics lodged a similar complaint this summer alleging two mailers to her Assembly district constituents were really thinly-veiled attempts to use taxpayers’ dollars to reconnect with voters, many of whom overlap the county’s District 2 boundaries. One mailer trumpeted a seminar for seniors, while the other advertised a pet fair in downtown Hayward.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Stark Chides Swalwell For Passing Out Rubber Ducks Made In China

ELECTION ‘12//CONGRESS 15 | Eric Swalwell might sing “Rubber duckie, you’re the one” in the bathtub following a hard day on the campaign trail, but the floating yellow novelty he’s passing out to the voters is not made in America, says Rep. Pete Stark.

On Friday, Stark’s campaign went on the offensive skewering Swalwell’s use of Chinese-made rubber ducks throughout his campaign. Citing a portion of Swalwell’s plan for creating jobs, contained on his campaign website that states, “Rebuilding American manufacturing is the key in rebuilding our economy,” the Stark campaign asks, “So are Eric’s rubber duckies made in the U.S.? No, not at all.”

Swalwell has handed out rubber ducks throughout his campaign at campaign events to mock Stark’s unwillingness to participate in candidates’ forums over the past six months, even though rubber chickens are more commonly used. However, rubber chickens are far more cost-prohibitive than tiny plastic ducks.

Campaign finance reports released this week show expenditures totaling $1,300 made Swalwell to the popular novelty company, Oriental Trading, over the past few months. Company representatives say the items are manufactured in China, according to Stark.

Stark says he has supported and co-sponsored legislation to create local jobs in the past, “I’ve fought to deliver real results, not rubber duckies,” said Stark. “Our economic recovery is fragile, and now is not the time to send a rookie – or a rubber duckie – to Congress.”

Eden Healthcare District Approves Short-Term Sudsidy For San Leandro Hospital

SAVE SAN LEANDRO HOSPITAL | A commitment by the Eden Township Healthcare District to help subsidize the short-term operations of San Leandro Hospital was unanimously approved this week even as the facility’s future remains in serious doubt following the transfer of title to property from the District to Sutter Health just three weeks ago.

The plan approved by Eden Township Board of Directors Wednesday offers a projected $779,000 over two years in general funds to a potential multi-entity subsidy to run San Leandro Hospital in its current model as a general acute care hospital with emergency room services. The proposal is based upon the District’s projected cash flow for fiscal years 2013 and 2014 and would entail it contribute approximately $261,000 the first year starting in June 2013, followed by roughly $518,000 in 2014.

No specific deal, though, from either the Alameda County Medical Center--believed to be in line to operate the hospital--the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, or the City of San Leandro is publicly known. After Wednesday’s meeting, ACMC Chief Operating Officer Bill Manns said he could not comment on whether or not any proposed plan includes Sutter leasing the hospital, which it official gained title Sept. 28, to ACMC.

Manns also denied the specificity of any plan being for only two years, as referenced by the District board. Any plans to operate San Leandro Hospital in its current form, said Manns, must include an annual subsidy between $2 million-$4 million and require other government entities to provide assistance, in addition to the District’s pledge. The multi-million dollar subsidy figure has been generally accepted as fact over the years by most public officials.

However, comments made Wednesday cast doubt over whether any short-term deal to rescue San Leandro Hospital is more of the same obfuscation from some county officials and Sutter. When Manns was asked by Eden Township Director Rajendra Ratnesar about the efficacy of a long-discussed “hybrid model” at the hospital, including general care, emergency room services and rehab services, he said the plan was not financially feasible, according to their modeling. “Part of the challenge with that requires building out approximately 12,000 square feet and the capital costs associated with that are fairly significant,” said Manns. “And so it reaches a lot longer to reach your break-even point.” To include acute rehab at San Leandro Hospital, Manns said, would require the initial subsidy to be higher.

The comments run counter to Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan’s encouragement to feature the hybrid model in an effort to save the hospital. “We strongly encourage Sutter to approve and provide financial support for this option, or to provide another feasible option to keep the hospital open,” said Steven Jones, Chan’s district director, referencing the hybrid model. “We reject proposals by Sutter to transform San Leandro Hospital into a rehabilitation-only facility, as this does not fit the needs of our San Leandro community.”

Mike Brannan, a representative for the California Nurses Association, encouraged the District to participate in the plan to subsidize operations at San Leandro and said of ACMC,“If that’s their commitment, I think we need to take them at their word.” Sutter’s continued presence in the future of the hospital still hovers over any deal, said Brannan. “The problem, of course, is once again, Sutter Health,” he said. “They have been the problem with the good-faith efforts this board and many others in the community have had through the last years for keeping the hospital open.” Brannan also called for a commitment longer than two years from ACMC and added there is skepticism any proposed deal between ACMC and Sutter even exists. “It is my understanding there is no firm commitment from Sutter Health to turn the facility over to ACMC, or to turn it over without some serious strings attached,” said Brannan.

However, while the future of the hospital still remains in serious doubt, there is now worry about the Eden Township Healthcare District’s prognosis for surviving as a government body following its defeat in state court to Sutter over title of San Leandro Hospital. The resolution of damages arising from the Sutter lawsuit also ties the District’s hands in furthering their financial support for any plan to keep the hospital’s doors open. “I can state, in my opinion, this board is in a Catch-22,” said District Board of Directors Chair Carole Rogers, “We don’t know what our resources can be if the lawsuit were to come to a conclusion.”

Friday, October 19, 2012

Ong Crosses $500,000 In Total Independent Expenditure Support

Dr. Jennifer Ong
ELECTION ‘12//ASSEMBLY | Dr. Jennifer Ong, one of two Democrats facing each other in the 20th Assembly District next month, broke the half-million dollar mark in support from independent expenditures this week.

Ong, who is facing former Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk, another Democrat, received over $90,000 in support from groups not affiliated directly with her campaign for the Assembly, but connected to the optometric industry. Ong is an optometrist with her own practice in Alameda.

The Cooperative of American Physicians Independent Expenditure Committee filed support for Ong’s campaign in the form of $50,178 last Wednesday. Another $40,505 was spent on Ong’s behalf by the California Optometric Association Political Action Committee, and Doctors of Optometry for Better Health Care. The outlay from this IEC now totals over $213,000 for the entire campaign. The sometimes large expenditures are often used to promote the group’s special interests along with supporting the candidate in mailers.

All together, Ong has received indirect benefits from independent expenditure committee this campaign season of $523,465. The huge support from special interests has greatly leveled the playing field built by her opponent's sizable fundraising advantage built upon labor unions and traditional allies in the local Democratic Party.

The uptick in support for Ong from IECs with just a few weeks until Election Day follows a similar pattern to the days leading up to the June primary. Ong’s own campaign spending along with help from IECs in late May was a prime reason for her strong finish, leading to a second place finish.

Quirk, himself, was also the beneficiary this week of one IEC of particular note, if not for the race in the 20th, but the nearby 18th Assembly District. The California Alliance, A Coalition of Consumer Attorneys and Conservationalists filed support for Quirk worth $25,200 last Tuesday. This is the same special interest group that infamously spent over $163,000 in a flurry of highly negative ads to successfully thwart Joel Young’s bid last June for the Assembly.

In the 18th, Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta received support from three small IEs this week, giving him a total of over $83,000 for the entire election.

Mack-Rose Called Reed Offering For A Clean Campaign Before Going Negative

ELECTION '12//SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL DIST 2 | As early as last July, there were rumors the campaign for San Leandro’s District 2 seat would get vicious. Candidate Dan Dillman faces the possibility of incarceration next year for obstruction of justice against two Alameda County sheriff’s deputies. San Leandro school board trustee Morgan Mack-Rose heard rumors circulating surrounding her private life and the incumbent Councilwoman Ursula Reed is perceived to some as unresponsive, and, at times, absent from her district.

So it is not surprising one of the candidates apparently vowed early on to run a clean campaign. However, a voice message obtained by The Citizen shows, in hindsight, the truce was broken by the same candidate who first proposed it.

Reed played a two-minute voice mail to her from Mack-Rose calling for a respectful fall campaign. The recording, received Aug. 1 shows Mack-Rose addressing a “disturbing rumor” going around that she plans to campaign negatively against Reed.

“I have no intention of doing that,” says Mack-Rose, who later assured Reed of her “personal respect” for the sitting councilmember. Besides, says Mack-Rose, “people don’t want to hear negative.”

Reed says she is bringing the voice mail to the public in response to a claim by Mack-Rose at an event Sept. 25 that Reed proposed purchasing and later accepting, in trying economic times like these, a city-issued iPad. Mack-Rose’s implication was the expenditure was a waste of taxpayers’ dollars. A mailer featuring the same falsehood was also sent to area seniors last month.

“It would be unconscionable to take iPads when we didn’t have enough money for papers for our students and I question the validity of the councilwoman’s statement that she did not accept an iPad, because she did,” said Mack-Rose on Sept. 25.

“I have no idea where she got her facts,” said Reed, afterwards, “because that didn’t happen.” Although, Reed, already in possession of her own tablet, first broached the idea of saving money by replacing paper city council agendas with iPads, she never accepted one paid for by the city, according to its IT Department.

The accusation and falsehood is not without precedent in these odd, often times bitter races for the council’s three open seats with most of the antics centering around two of Mayor Stephen Cassidy’s hand-picked candidates, Mack-Rose and Chris Crow in District 4.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

San Leandro Mayor Cassidy Aids Challengers In Effort To Stack The City Council

Stephen Cassidy
ELECTION '12//SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | Mayor Stephen Cassidy of San Leandro donated money to political allies in all three open seats on the City Council up for re-election including Morgan Mack-Rose for District 2, Chris Crow for District 4 and Hermy Almonte for District 6.

Cassidy gave $500 from his 2010 election committee to Crow and Almonte and $1,000 to Mack-Rose. Two of the candidates receiving contributions from Cassidy, Mack-Rose and Almonte, are running against incumbents, Ursula Reed in District 2 and Jim Prola in District 6, which Cassidy has lent no money.

What the contributions reveal, though, is a sitting mayor, often criticized for his failure to compromise with members of the current City Council, attempting to stack the board by financially supporting candidates, two of which have recently been caught in blatant campaign lies.

Mack-Rose recently accused Reed at a candidate forum and via mailers last month of accepting an iPad on taxpayers' money, but proved to be false according to the City’s IT department.

As for Crow, he was denied a ride along with the police due to an unpaid ticket concerning marijuana possession that turned into a warrant. Crow denied these allegations that proved to be true. He also has touted the endorsement of Supervisor Wilma Chan whose office recently told The Citizen she hasn’t endorsed anyone in San Leandro for district 4. Crow later denied this truth as well. Both lies came to light after controversy stunted his campaign concerning a comment about Chinese Olympic athletes that some from the Asian population in San Leandro considered racist although Crow says his comment was solely about the Chinese comments about American athletes and not their race.

As for Almonte, he hasn’t performed well against Prola; a well polished and most battle-tested San Leandro politician. Almonte commonly reads off notes perched before his bespectacled eyes at forums while Prola speaks more confidently in his experience as councilmember. Almonte has attempted to lash out at Prola on financial issues at the tail end of forums which Prola has pushed back against by denouncing financial decisions made by Almonte as vice president of the San Leandro school board.

Although, Prola has greatly outraised Almonte with a total of $34,230 raised thus far but ending with $21,123 with expenditures included. Much of Prola’s support comes from labor because of his long association as a union man. Sharon Cornu, Pete Stark's campaign manager also donated to Prola's campaign. Almonte on the other hand only managed to raise $4,505 while ending with only a mere $1,185 made up of small individual contributions from San Leandro residents other than Cassidy.

Chris Crow, who although has raised more money than competitors for District 4, trails behind financially due to his competitors significant loans to their own campaigns. Chris Crow has a total monetary contribution of $5,682 but ending with $4,293, Darlene Daevu with $10,800 but ending with $11,166 overall, Benny Lee with $12,441 and ending with $5,473. Dan Dillman, candidate for District 2, gave $125 to Crow as well.

Mack-Rose leads District 2 with $26,150 raised but ending in $10,822, Dillman raised $3,107 but ending with $624 and Reed, the incumbent, trails behind Mack-Rose with a total of $9,100 raised but ending with $8,189. Reed has received support from the Teamsters Union and SEIU with Mack-Rose receiving some union support from Electrical Workers Local 595 but also the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce. Furthermore, Tim Holmes, Mack-Rose's campaign manager, gave $1,000 to Mack-Rose’s campaign and $250 to Crow.

Similar Ideologies, Good Hair: How To Differentiate Between Bonta, Guillen

Rob Bonta, Abel Guillen
ELECTION '12//ASSEMBLY 18 | Because of California's new top-two primary system, the 18th Assembly District race this fall between Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta and Peralta Community College Trustee Abel Guillen is not your typical Democrat-versus-Republican contest. Instead, Bonta and Guillen are both staunch liberals who tend to see eye-to-eye on nearly every major policy position. Indeed, it's difficult at times to tell the two apart.

Both, for example, want to eliminate the two-thirds majority to raise taxes in the state Legislature. Improving education is a top priority, they say, as is reducing crime. How would they increase revenue to the state's coffers? Enact an oil severance tax. Even when legendary civil rights leader Dolores Huerta endorsed Guillen, she soon gave her support to Bonta as well, adding to the large number of dual endorsements in this race...

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE IN THE EAST BAY EXPRESS

Gascon Says He Had Plenty Of Evidence To Prosecute Hayashi

ELECTION ‘12//ALCO SUPERVISOR DIST 2 | San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon reiterated Thursday morning his office had the goods on Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi following her then-felony shoplifting charge last year.

Appearing on KGO’s Ronn Owens radio program, Gascon said Hayashi showed intent to steal $2,450 worth of apparel from a Neiman Marcus at Union Square in San Francisco before she was nabbed Oct. 25, 2011 by police.

“We don’t take cases to court unless we believe we have evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Gascon told the caller inquiring about Hayashi’s infamous arrest. “In the case of Ms. Hayashi, we had plenty of evidence to prove the case to a reasonable doubt.” Hayashi later plead to a misdemeanor in early January.

When Gascon was asked by the caller whether his office would have prosecuted the case without evidence Hayashi had intended to steal the good, he said, “No, absolutely not.”

In the aftermath of her conviction and her current run for Alameda County Board of Supervisors this fall, Hayashi has apologized for the transgression, but has also characterized the incident as an “honest mistake.”

During her run to replace former Supervisor Nadia Lockyer, Hayashi has told The Citizen on numerous occasions she believes District 2 voters in the Hayward and Tri Cities areas are more interested in reviving the economy and funding local services than the shoplifting incident that has so bedeviled her political career. In fact, she referenced other politicians who have made comebacks from similarly self-inflicted wounds after a forum earlier this month in Union City.

State Sen. Leland Yee’s 1992 arrest for allegedly stealing a bottle of tanning oil from a store in Hawaii, said Hayashi, was eventually forgiven by voters and she believes voters will do the same.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Opponent Is Getting Help From Text Messages During Our Debate! OMG!

ELECTION ‘12//TEXT MESSAGING | Calling out your opponent for receiving help during candidate’s forums via text messages--it’s the campaign bombshell sweeping the nation! Well, at least, in our little corner of the East Bay.

On at least four notable occasions this election season, local candidates have lobbed the specious, often times suspect, allegation against opponents they claim received instruction during forums and, in one case, when vying for an appointment to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

“Two funniest moments of the night: Morgan Mack-Rose coming up to me before the debate and asking me if was going to have my friends text me the answers this time,” wrote San Leandro District 4 City Council candidate Justin Hutchison Sept. 25 on his campaign Facebook page. Mack-Rose, though, isn’t even Hutchison’s opponent, but a candidate for the District 2 seat. Nevertheless, Hutchison said Mack-Rose made the jibe referring to a past Sept. 19 forum when she approached him before another candidates forum at the Marina Community Center.

Hutchison denied the allegation, but added he saw his opponent, Chris Crow, reading a particularly negative East Bay Citizen article published that day about himself, during the Sept. 19 forum. The petty shenanigans and hyperbolic accusation do not end there.

Similar accusations have been thrown around at recent Hayward school board forums by critics of a few candidates and some audience members. One allegation posits disgraced Hayward school board member Jesus Armas was seen texting information to candidate Peter Bufete during a forum last week. Bufete is presumed to be Armas’ chosen candidate and campaign finance reports showing he transferred $2,600 to Bufete’s campaign only bolster that belief. The issue of text messaging, for Armas, however, is still a sore subject.

Not to be outdone, others claim another board member was texting Hayward school board member Luis Reynoso at the same forum. Neither claim is substantiated, but poses the question of whether there might be more utility in having these debates via text or instant messaging?

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi and her former district director Chris Parman were seen last month texting each other during the endorsement interviews for the Alameda County Democratic Party. Parman also attempted to video tape the forum before Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney, a strong supporter for Hayashi’s opponent, Richard Valle, forcefully stepped in front of him. In fact, watching the text messaging going on across the room between Hayashi and Parman was almost like watching a visual interpretation of the Internet with computer information flowing through the ether from one phone to another. A similar controversy occurred during a 2010 Florida gubernatorial debate when the challenger received a text message during a commercial break offering a suggested retort.

The most infamous accusation of a public official surreptitiously using text messaging to aid their performance came last May during the appointment interviews to replace former county supervisor Nadia Lockyer. With Valle and Ana Apodaca both pushing strongly for the appointment, ultimately awarded to Valle, the reason for the choice was bathed in a bit of controversy, albeit cryptically lodged by Valle, who claimed to have given the Board of Supervisors important information leading to his appointment over Apodaca.

Sources later told The Citizen, “The Secret,” as it was later dubbed, involved an accusation Apodaca had received heads up via her iPad about the questions asked to other candidates and their answers that followed. Apodaca vehemently denied the rumor, yet it apparently set the tone for a flurry of oddball accusation that followed in races across the county. Whether the claims are true or not, it is clear text messaging is doing nothing to strengthen the caliber of answers any more than it would help if a supporter literally stood in front of the candidate with a stack of handwritten cue cards and silently mouthed every syllable.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Valle Shows Fundraising Strength, But Still Outraised By Hayashi

ELECTION '12//ALAMEDA COUNTY SUPERVISOR DIST 2 | Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi and appointed Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle are nearly neck and neck in fundraising for the District 2 supervisorial seat, according to recently released campaign finance reports. Hayashi barely scraped past Valle with the help of a transfer of funds from her own large assembly campaign war chest.

Valle raised a total of $152,959 and Hayashi with $158,017 but Valle expended significantly more than Hayashi ending with a cash balance of $63,048 compared to Hayashi’s $121,991.

As expected, Valle showed strong labor support during his appointment period. He received large donations from numerous labor PACs and Hayashi, whose history in the assembly dealt largely with health, received significant donations from PACs in health, physician and orthopedic associations.

Furthermore, Hayashi transferred $20,000 from her 2010 “Democrat for Assembly” committee containing $465,526 in past contributions. Hayashi also has a third account, “Mary Hayashi Assembly 2010 Officeholder Account,” that raised $20,700 this past financial period but expended $14,421; the ending cash balance is $40,928.

Hayashi’s supervisor account has far fewer donators than Valle but she made up the difference in addition to her large fund transfer with a few very large donations. Four large contributors, mainly PACs, gave Hayashi $10,000 to $20,000. GTECH, a gaming tech company for state lotteries and Personal Insurance Federation of CA Agents & Employees PAC gave $20,000 over all. Other contributors, capping at $10,000, include California Dental PAC and Farmers Group.

Hayashi’s pull in the health industry has further attracted other donors that although dip below $10,000, range from $1,000 to $5,000. Donors include The Doctors Company PAC, California Pharmacists PAC and The Dentists Insurance Company. Colleagues in the Assembly, such as Jose Solorio, Ricardo Lara and Fiona Ma donated significant sums of cash ranging from $1,000 to $2,500.

In the past few months Valle has witnessed vast support from labor, the Democratic Party and its affiliates gathering at the wings of his campaign. It was a stark transition from Hayashi to a new candidate that was relatively unknown in the East Bay prior to his appointment this past spring. Large swaths of local politicos have donated small sums of money but enough to help catch up with Hayashi’s financially impressive “Hayashi for Supervisor” account. Valle has said before that they hope to raise enough money to close the gap with Hayashi’s half a million dollar treasure trove kept in her officeholder account but with less than four weeks away it’s starting to look unlikely.

Local politicians such as Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney, Hayward CouncilmemberS Marvin Peixoto and Mark Salinas, and former San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young donated funds to Valle. Labor PACs such as Operating Engineers Local 3, District 20 PAC and International Assignment of Firefighters, Local 55 gave significant, but timid, sums of money ranging from $1,000 to $2,000. One of the largest donations was from Potential Industries Inc., a recycling company and Service Employees Union Local 1021, that dished out $20,000 each to Valle.

Furthermore, Tom Silva, of Eden Realty who’s been active in the local political scene for quite some time donated $1,000 to both Valle and Hayashi. John Dutra of Dutra Enterprises donated $500 and former CEO of St. Rose, Michael Mahoney donated $250.

Union City Mayor Mark Green, however, did not fair so well in attracting donors to his campaign for supervisor. Green reported just $7,074 in cash in hand, based on $6,975 in donations. He also loaned his campaign an additional $5,846. Republican Mark Turnquist did not file a fundraising report for the third quarter.

The financial reports show a definitive difference in campaign fundraising. Hayashi has opted for her legislative health experience to garner large donations from health PACs and her time in politics at the state level to pull donations from noteworthy politicians in Assembly. Valle on the other hand has shown strength in pulling smaller donations but from large amounts of donors in a hardscrabble fundraising campaign to out beat Hayashi who has been at battle over her guilty plea of stealing $2,450 in apparel from a high-end retailer in San Francisco. Valle’s financial records show strong financial backing, but his strategy thus far in this race has been to avoid publicly denouncing Hayashi’s indiscretion at recent candidate forums.

Instead Valle has been more forward with The Citizen in one-on-one conversations and spoke of forthcoming mailers that will speak more openly about Hayashi’s crime. Hayashi on the other hand has been more aggressive with recently attacking Valle’s raise in executive pay at Tri-CED in 2009 and his connections to St. Rose Hospital as its finances dwindled over the past few years.

ALCOD2.....$$IN........$$OUT......CASHinHAND....LOANS
HAYASHI..$158,017..$43,418..$121,991....$    0
VALLE
....$152,959..$92,528..$ 63,048....$4,848
GREEN....$  6,975..$ 5,846..$  7,074....$5,945

Swalwell Received Support From Groups Tied To Conservative Republicans; Pro-Israel Lobby

ELECTION ‘12//CONGRESS 15 | If you access the Federal Election Commission’s campaign finance reports from a political action committee named, “Because I Care PAC,” (BICPAC) you will find the pro-Israel group lavishes thousands in contributions on some of the biggest names in the Republican Party.

The Boca Raton, FL PAC gave Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign $5,000 last year along another $1,000 this past August, according to recent FEC finance reports released Tuesday. They gave House Speaker John Boehner $1,000 last June and his lieutenant, Rep. Eric Cantor, received $2,500. Ultra-conservative presidential candidate Rick Santorum also picked up $2,500 earlier this year.

George Allen, the Virginia senate candidate who once called a black person “macaca” pulled down $1,000 from BICPAC. Texas Tea Party Rep. Ted Cruz received campaign donations, as did Rick Berg, the Republican candidate for Senate in North Dakota, who once advocated for incarcerating women who attained abortions even after rape.

The list of contributions from BICPAC is an illustrious group of ultra conservatives who will likely continue to pursue far right-wing political positions well into the next decade. But, then there’s one name on BICPAC’s list of contributions completely unknown to anybody outside of the East Bay.

However, BICPAC also contributed $500 to Dublin Councilman Eric Swalwell’s congressional campaign last Sept. 18, according to his most recent FEC filings. Although, BICPAC is listed as a non-partisan committee, it typically contributes to Republicans in vastly greater percentages, according the government watchdog site, OpenSecrets.org.

In the third quarter, Swalwell’s contributions from PACs rose significantly from just a few thousand dollars during the entire campaign to $40,250 in the last three months alone, according to the reports.

From July to the end of September, Swalwell raised $233,936 in donations to his campaign with $161,116 in cash remaining. Rep. Pete Stark reported a slightly better financial haul with $266,871 in contributions, while still sitting on $537,749 in cash on hand. The clear money advantage for Stark will likely be flexed in the last few weeks of the campaign certainly in the form a flurry of mailers to district voters.

As reported last week, Swalwell’s increased viability to PACs has often come from groups historically hostile to Stark’s record, primarily in the health insurance industry and pro-Israel lobby. The medical insurance firm, Wellpoint, Inc, long a target of Stark’s, gave Swalwell a total of $5,000 from its PAC. Swalwell has also received support from medical firms, Allergen, Amgen, Merck and Pfizer totaling $9,000 in the past few months.

Swalwell’s pro-Israel stance articulated early in the primary season also attracted extensive support from Jewish groups outside of the district. In addition to BICPAC, Swalwell received $5,000 from the National Action Committee and $2,000 from both the World Alliance for Israel PAC and National PAC. Support from groups with interests in protecting Israel gravitating towards Swalwell is not at all surprising. Over Stark’s 40-year career in Congress, he has never been reverential to the Israel lobby and has generally stuck to pacifist views both domestically and internationally.

Conversely, Stark has never been shy in accepting PAC money, particularly from groups seeking his influence on the House Ways and Means health subcommittee. Roughly three-fourths of his campaign contributions come from PAC associated with the medical and pharmaceutical industries.

Alameda County Medical Center Proposes To Operate San Leandro Hospital For Two Years

SAVE SAN LEANDRO HOSPITAL | Representatives from the Alameda County Medical Center will present a proposal Wednesday night to take over operations of San Leandro Hospital for, at least, the next two years.

ACMC will unveil the plan at the monthly meeting of the Eden Township Healthcare District in Hayward, according to its agenda posted Monday. The basic sketch of the proposal includes ACMC operating the hospital in its present configuration as a general care facility with 24-hour emergency room care, along with maintaining its current workforce, said Carole Rogers, chair of the Eden Township Healthcare District Board of Directors.

San Leandro Councilman Michael Gregory, in whose district the hospital resides, said he has no specifics on the proposed plan, but welcomes any partnership to keep the facility open and called it a “wake-up call” for the community to again rally around. “You want the hospital, then you need to support it,” Gregory said, directed at San Leandrans.

There are echoes, though, of another proposal to extend San Leandro Hospital’s life in 2008 that ultimately led the District to sue Sutter Health for title to the facility. Earlier this year, a state appeals court sided with Sutter and granted it ownership of San Leandro Hospital. However, the facility and its employees continue to sit in limbo as Sutter, Alameda County and the Eden Township Healthcare District sort out what comes next. “We sure have come full-circle,” said Gregory of the situation four years ago, then under the public’s radar. “This one will be a lot more transparent.”

The controversial 2008 memorandum of understanding between the Sutter and the District initially entailed keeping the hospital open for two years. Critics, however, cried foul when Sutter did not hold its end of the bargain and threatened to close the hospital early, citing monthly losses of up to $600,000. For these reasons, any short-term proposal will likely be met with skepticism. Especially since employees and labor leaders have long questioned ACMC’s perceived coziness with Sutter going back to 2009 when the two surreptitiously entered a lease agreement for San Leandro Hospital before even possessing title to the building.

The Eden Township Healthcare District Board of Directors will meet at the Hayward Area Recreation District Office, 1099 D Street, Hayward, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 5:30 p.m.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Swalwell Wins Mock Debate Against Actor Portaying Stark As Real Election Looms

ELECTION '12//CONGRESS 15 | There may finally be consensus in the race for the 15th Congressional District. Both candidates need to step away from Final Cut Pro and quit posting videos to YouTube.

Today, Eric Swalwell's campaign posted a mock debate between himself and an actor portraying Rep. Pete Stark. The 12-minute long video falls flat and contrived as a clip two weeks ago posted by Stark that showed him clearly and clumsily reading off a cue card.

In this video, Swalwell plays the straight man, while a young actor with hair and eye brows colored grey, rambles through quotes previously uttered by the original Stark. However, this version of Stark, actually, looks more like Fremont's bellicose Mayor Gus Morrison.

It’s not the first time Swalwell has tried his hand at acting. He appeared in a low-budget movie, he says, was done as a favor to a campaign volunteer. The impetus for this video comes from the Swalwell campaign’s months-long push to get Stark to debate the first-term Dublin councilman.

Those hoping to invest 12 minutes of their life with the expectation for a payoff in laughter or poignancy will be disappointed here, because there are none. Like previous campaign videos put out by the Swalwell campaign, this one is amateurish and low in production values. (As opposed to this 30-second spot put out last week by Rob Bonta's campaign for the 18th Assembly.)

Aside from that, could you imagine any other candidate for local office this year, let alone the House of Representatives, resorting to these types of corny stunts? And, is spending time on a video of this type and at this stage of the campaign--just three weeks from Election Day--the best use of their time and energy? Or, is this a sign things are getting desperate?


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hello? Ellen Corbett Here. I Still Want To Be Congresswoman

ELECTION ‘14//CONGRESS 15 | The ballots haven’t even been counted. Hell, two-thirds of the voters haven’t thought twice about the Nov. 6 general election, but Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett is wasting no time at getting a leg up on the competition for the 15th congressional race in 2014.

Two days ago, Pleasanton Weekly tardily reported Corbett is a go for Congress in two years regardless of whether Rep. Pete Stark retains the seat next month or it belongs to Dublin Councilman Eric Swalwell. In fact, Corbett’s certainty for 2014 has been well-known for months. However, that doesn’t mean the report is not noteworthy. Notice where it happened (Pleasanton) and how many weeks from Election Day she trumpeted her future political plans (four weeks).

Despite Swalwell’s upstart campaign giving Stark a run for his money, there doesn’t seem to be much respect among Democratic Party stalwarts for his chances and a perception his potential first-term will instantly become an exercise in lame duck politics. Just look at how the two major candidates for the seat in 2014 act as if the whole Swalwell thing never happened.

A few months ago, Corbett held a fundraiser for her congressional run at a supporter’s home in the Tri Valley. In a similar vein, another likely candidate in 2014, Ro Khanna, amassed a small fortune earlier this year. Khanna, though, has been noticeably quiet and for good reason. He may be Stark’s pick to replace him, if victorious next month. Through that lens, it’s easy to see why Khanna has stepped back, while Corbett has jumped the gun. Khanna has stayed somewhat in the news plugging his excellent new book on manufacturing in the U.S. rather than playing politics in this race.

For Corbett, poking around the Tri Valley, not only tweaks Swalwell in his own backyard, but It may also represent a move to get a head start on Khanna and his $1 million in campaign contributions, but on a whole slew of potential contenders. They include Pleasanton Mayor Jennifer Hosterman, Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti and likely Swalwell, recast as a grizzled veteran of one congressional campaign and—don’t count her out—Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi.

Jesus Armas Gave $2,600 to Peter Bufete's Campaign For Hayward School Board

ELECTION '12//HAYWARD SCHOOL BOARD | Campaign filings for the last reporting period ending Sept. 30 revealed Hayward school board candidate, Peter Bufete, received his largest donation from Jesus Armas’s re-election committee after Bufete admitted in August that Armas recommended him to run for the school board.

The donation tops off at $2,600 from “Armas for School Board 2012” committee that came of no use to Armas after he decided not to run for re-election when The Citizen reported in July that he was having an undisclosed affair with school board member, Maribel Heredia, that since then has raised questions of a possible collusion of votes and a conflict-of-interest.

According to Armas’s last campaign finance filing on July, 27, two days after the scandal broke, his committee’s cash balance stood at $3,287 thus showing the majority of his re-election funds were given to Bufete.

Bufete admitted in August that he was friends with Armas’s son when they attended middle school together and that he had suggested to Bufete to run for the school board. Bufete says that despite his connection to Armas he will be an independent thinking candidate for the school board. He also received the Hayward Chamber of Commerce endorsement in August that was given to him from the chamber’s government relations council that Armas is a member.

Bufete ran for Hayward City Council earlier this year but only managed to capture 5 percent of the vote, but ran on a platform then, as he does now, that he relates well with high school students because of his age and his recent graduation from college. Bufete is 22-year old, but has impressed many politicians in Hayward because of his confidence, well coiffed image and public speaking experience. City council members Barbara Halliday and Francisco Zermeño have spoken highly of the young candidate and each also gave $100 to his campaign for school board.

The second highest donation, although small in comparison to Armas’s, comes from Bufete himself and the Service Employee International Union Local 1021’s PAC at $500. Other contributors include Dianne McDermott from Hayward’s planning commission, former city councilmember Kevin Dowling and Dr. Hal Gin who moderated the first school board candidate forum hosted by Asian Pacific Islander American Affairs Association (APAPA).

Also, according to a Schedule B filing, a $2,578 loan was taken out by Williams Family Care, which Bufete is an administrator at, for his campaign. Bufete raised a total of $8,922 but expended $5,375 thus far ending with a cash balance of $3,546.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Source Cited In Article Comes Out To Again Call Heredia A Liar In Letter To Board

Maribel Heredia
HAYWARD SCHOOL BOARD SCANDAL | The unnamed family member who said embattled Hayward school board member Maribel Heredia was lying about her reasons for missing an Aug. 22 meeting has sent a letter to the board urging them to investigate the matter.

In the letter dated Oct. 10, Angelica Garrido, the same source featured in an article alleging Heredia’s absence last Aug. 22 was not due to a family emergency, as she stated later, but possibly as part of a family vacation, as some critics have asserted, urged the school board to look further into Heredia’s excuse.

“I am saddened to see the lack of investigation regarding Maribel Heredia’s blatant lie to the board and the Hayward school community,” Garrido wrote. “I am the relative that came forward on East Bay Citizen to say that Maribel Heredia was not being forthright in stating that she went to Southern California because of a family emergency.”

Garrido describes great antipathy in the letter towards Heredia for using her grandmother’s death as a excuse. At times, she wrote, Garrido spent upwards of 15 hours a day at her grandmother’s beside amid a constant 24-hour vigil by relatives. “I can’t tell you how difficult it was and I can’t share every sacrifice we went through, but it really angers me to have someone lie about someone so special and something so sacred.

The family member also added, at no time, did Heredia offer any support nor did she even have a relationship with the deceased or that particular part of her ex-boyfriend’s family.

Last month, the board approved paying Heredia for the missed meeting, but the issue returned during the school board’s last meeting when a former Hayward school district employee asked for the discussion again be placed on its agenda. The school board meets tonight, Oct. 10, 6:30 p.m.

A Potential New Majority In Alameda May Settle The Future Of Alameda Point

ELECTION '12//ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | Alameda Point is still a potential gold mine. Although the city's past attempts to redevelop the former Naval Air Station have failed, the 1,500 acres on the northwest side of Alameda not only could transform the island city, but also the entire East Bay with an influx of jobs and new housing and business developments that would feature some of most stunning views in the region. What the City of Alameda ultimately does with Alameda Point will have major ramifications for the city, but how it moves forward with plans to develop it will rest in the hands of new councilmembers elected this fall...

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT EAST BAY EXPRESS

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Right-Leaning For-Profit Medical Insurance Super PAC Gives $4,000 To Swalwell

ELECTION '12//CONGRESS 15 | Last weekend, the business website, Bloomberg, reported a $4,000 campaign contribution to congressional candidate, Eric Swalwell, from Wellpoint Inc., the second-largest private insurance company in America, for this reporting period. During the summer, the politically active insurance company contributed $1,000 to Swalwell.

Bloomberg cites a filing made by Wellpoint Inc’s political action committee (WellPAC) that was made on Oct. 3 to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Bloomberg says that Swalwell is the only candidate to receive funding from Wellpoint that is running for federal office that is challenging an incumbent.

But what makes Wellpoint Inc. more notable than their status in health insurance is their essential financial support to two for-profit groups that former presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich, utilized when he was eyeing for a political comeback that surmised into a run for president. The for-profit groups were pillars of “Newt Inc,” Gingrich Group, a consulting firm, and the think tank, Center for Health Transformation which Wellpoint Inc, paid expensive fees to be a member of. Gingrich is well known for his fervent opposition to the Affordable Health Care Act when he ran for president despite his previous support for a health care mandate. His think tank also supported a mandate for those who made above $50,000-a-year and Wellpoint, who although hasn’t publicly opposed Obama’s health care act, did take a financial hit after the Supreme Court upheld the health law. Since then, Wellpoint accomplished a landmark merger in response to the Affordable Health Care Act with Amerigroup who mainly services Medicaid customers.

Newt Gingrich
While Wellpoint Inc. contributes money to both Democrats and Republicans they tend to spend considerably more on Republican candidates. Wellpoint Inc, according to the last reporting period on OpenSecrets.org, had contributed $147,000 to Democrats and $342,000 to Republicans running for office in the House of Representatives. For the Senate, Wellpoint gave a mere $11,500 to Democrats compared to $90,000 to Republicans.

Wellpoint Inc., and their Anthem Blue Cross unit, stirred up controversy in 2010 when they roped in billions in profits while lowering their medical coverage to its consumers as they spiked premium rates. Stark was critical of this in 2010 noting that since Wellpoint Inc. had made so much money that it was time for them to return “those windfalls to their enrollees in the form of reduced premiums.” Stark also was critical of Swalwell when Bloomberg contacted his campaign, “I’ve never been afraid to take on for-profit health insurance companies and special interests,” said Stark. “I’m proud to be supported by doctors, nurses, teachers and firefighters, and not surprised that a for-profit insurance company would support my opponent.”

Eric Swalwell’s spokeswoman, Lisa Tucker says that although donors may not always agree with Swalwell they do agree "100 percent with Eric and the constituents in the 15th Congressional District that it is time for Pete Stark to retire.” Swalwell has ran on a campaign slogan of "new energy and new ideas" and has been consistently attacking Stark on his long term incumbency, controversial antics towards others and large PAC donations that consists largely of donors from the medical industry. Stark has received large sums of money from medical insurer, Blue Shield, which has donated more to Republicans than Democrats nationwide. Swalwell supports the Affordable Health Care Act.

Wellpoint’s PAC also donated to California politicians Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Brian Bilbray (R-CA), Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) among others. Also, according to Bloomberg, "the PAC also donated to the re-election campaign of Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who polls show is in a close race with Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren."

Shane Bond is a regular contributor to the East Bay Citizen.