Monday, November 18, 2013

Cassidy’s Quandary: Juggling Work Demands With His Duties As Mayor

SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | In San Leandro, being mayor is not a full-time job, at least, financially. Earlier this month, San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy offered another in a long line of proposals that appear more suited to molding the official business of the city to his own personal work schedule than his stated goals of greater government efficiency.

While citing concerns San Leandro City Council meetings run too long, Cassidy proposed Nov. 7 a set of time-saving restrictions meant to offer greater efficiency and ostensibly have council members at home and in bed before the late local news.

Cassidy’s suggestions to impose a 15-minute time limit on staff presentations during regular meetings along with a limit of four questions per council member to staff and a seven-minute limit on council reports routinely heard at the end of meetings, was met with some opposition.

Mayor Stephen Cassidy
PHOTO/Steven Tavares
“I signed up for this because I want to be available for the public,” said Councilmember Benny Lee. He told Cassidy he was willing to stay at meetings however long they go and worries placing time restraints will yield inadequate information for the public.

Councilmember Ursula Reed thinks the council is already efficient and meetings typically do not run very long. However, she said, recent hot topic issues such as the Chinese flag controversy last September and the approval of medical cannabis dispensaries two weeks ago are rare and attract more public speakers than usual.

“The majority of us have to be at work the next day,” said Cassidy and “Decision-making begins to degrade after 10 p.m.” He cautions, though, he plans to implement the new guidelines for three months before reevaluating its usefulness.

However, this is not the first time Cassidy has made attempts to allow his own personal convenience trump the needs and schedule of others at City Hall. Early in his first term, Cassidy changed the starting times of City Council committees of which he served. Some were scheduled to start at odd early morning times such 7:45 a.m. Critics claimed Cassidy, who is an attorney in San Francisco, scheduled the odd times to fit his commute on BART to The City. A year later, the council committees were eliminated altogether.

The demands of working a full-time job while leading a city of over 86,000 has also severely limited Cassidy’s ability to hold office hours, let alone commiserate with other public officials and colleagues in the East Bay. During his first three years in office, Cassidy has shown a clear unwillingness for serving on intergovernmental agencies. Of the nine such agencies, Cassidy is only an alternate for the Alameda County Transportation Committee. Earlier this year, former Union City Mayor Mark Green suggested Cassidy was making a mistake for himself and his constituents by not participating on such boards and their potential for creating important networking and leadership opportunities. Despite an aversion to local regional matters, however, Cassidy did serve as president of the Alameda County Mayors Council last year, which skews to a more national view of issues.

In all fairness, Cassidy is the first San Leandro mayor who is not semi-retired since Ellen Corbett in the mid-90s, but the political optics of a mayor who rarely even sets foot in his office is ripe for manipulation by any potential challenger for his seat next year. Cue a photo of an empty mayor's office with the tagline: “How can Stephen Cassidy lead San Leandro when he’s working at his cubicle in San Francisco?” could be a suggested campaign flier. However, for Cassidy’s sake, he has yet to draw any credible competition. No member of the City Council appears poised to take him on despite his flaws and reputation as an uncompromising colleague and no member of the public with necessary gravitas seems to exist.

Cynthia Chandler, an attorney, is a likely opponent who is indicating a willingness to aggressively take Cassidy on, but she has no political experience. Dan Dillman, a charismatic local theater owner who describes himself as both a treasure hunter and ancient astronaut theorist, may also present Cassidy with another challenger willing to get in his face on issues such as city and business relations. In recent months, Cassidy and Dillman have traded barbs during the public speakers' portion of council meetings. For instance, when Cassidy asked Dillman to state his address before speaking, Dillman eventually replied, “Milky Way. Planet Earth.” Yet, like the question of whether there is life on distant planets, San Leandro voters may have to wonder if there is, indeed, any sign of life in their mayor’s office and, if it does, what's next? A proposal by Cassidy to proclaim council meetings to end before the start of "The Voice"?


  1. You shouldn't run for office if you don't have the time to do the job right. Holding office hours should be a prerequisite for any mayor.

  2. Cassidy is very vulnerable if anybody meaningful runs against him. He is not well liked in San Leandro.

  3. Cassidy's situation was discussed in the 2010 election, but did not gain any traction. As a past Claims Specialist working litigation for insurance carriers, I understood the demands of being an Attorney and Mayor at the same time; I felt it could not be done as Cassidy has now shown. Attorney firms want their Attorneys to put in long hours and usually demand six day work schedules. The Charter clearly shows the "Powers of the Mayor." And one of its conditions is for "Mayors to sit on intergovernmental agencies." This is not to say a Mayor cannot share these assignments, but no question it is important for any Mayor to serve on the major agencies on behalf of the City. Further, a Mayor needs to be at City Hall a minimum of 20-25 hours a week. A Mayor must be around to serve constituency needs. People want to be able to drop in and see the Mayor to address concerns. If a person cannot do this, then find another occupation. One last item, The Council handbook clearly notes what and how Council meetings are to be handled. Stifling free speech is not noted. Tony Santos

  4. I never thought I'd say this, but I agree with Tony.

  5. When I talk to San Leandro residents, they say Cassidy tries to bully people and they hope someone runs against him

  6. I don't care about Cassidy's "personal work schedule" or life!
    He looks like a much older Larry Fine, the job must be getting to him. He'll bully the council on this. Council just say NO and stand strong and together against this bad idea. If he can't handle the job, he should quit.
    Be careful with attorney Cynthia Chandler, hear she's a friend of the wannbe lawyer Marga Lacabe Katz. Not voting for anyone the wannabe lawyer Marga or her husband Mike Katz (also running for city council) endorse, they supported the loser Cassidy and are very rude and mean people if you don't share their ideas. They too seem to think it's their way or the highway. We need smart leaders, not dictators.

  7. Cassidy must have farted to come up with this idea. It's obvious he not thinking with his head.
    I'm not voting for anyone Marga Lacabe and her husband Mike Katz endorse or support. They supported Cassidy and Crow. This couple is not very smart, lack brains and good people skills.
    Hear their trying to become reality TV stars and be competition for Honey Boo Boo.

  8. Not voting for anyone running for Mayor that hasn't been on the City Council. Cassidy was never on the City Council and it shows. Maybe if Cassidy had been a Councilmember he'd a known about the often long hours of the job.
    NOT voting for Chandler the wannabe Mayor. Never heard of her and like Cassidy, she's a lawyer and never been on the City Council. She's also Marga Lacabe's buddy.
    NOT voting for Katz cause he's always been Cassidy's puppet. Sorry Marga.

  9. Although the Mayor and Council jobs are part time, you would think Cassidy would put in at least 20 hours a week in the Mayor's office. Why would you run for the job if you didn't have the time?

  10. Folks, read between the lines. Cassidy just doesn't think the city council has good enough questions for staff. He thinks he's smarter than everybody and only the great Steve Cassidy asks question in a clear and concise manner. he would be wrong, but you'll never win with someone with delusions of their own superior intelligence.

  11. Maybe Michael Gregory will run against him. He will be termed out of his Council seat in 2014, but could run for Mayor and definitely looks the part. He won by a large margin last time he ran.

  12. Michael Gregory? He's done absolutely nothing while on the Council and often looks as if he's sleeping. Jim Prola talks too much, says nothing and loves to toot his own horn.
    Diana Souza has the courage to say no to Cassidy. Might be time we have another woman Mayor. DIANA SOUZA FOR MAYOR!!

  13. Michael Gregory may "look the part," but being Mayor takes someone that's done more than make the best dressed list.
    I agree, he's done nothing and don't like how he's voted on many important issues. He appears to lack leadership. Won't vote for him. We need leaders not followers.

  14. TOTALLY agree Cassidy "thinks he's smarter than everybody," always has and probably always will. He was the same while he served on the school board and no one could work with him. He likes grandstanding and gets off on it.
    Cassidy going to be one term Mayor cause many people hate him.

  15. Diana Souza has done nothing in the 2 terms she has been on the City Council, shows up at very few events, and is not well prepared at Council meetings. She might be the only Council member that Cassidy could beat easily. We need somebody much better than the do nothing Diana Souza. She is not well thought of in San Leandro by most residents.

  16. 3:56, Our experience with Councilmember Souza has always been positive. She has attended every event I've been at and has always been involved in the community.
    When we've asked for information she has always been very good at getting back to us. She has stood up to Cassidy and does it with class. Something more council members should do. I agree Diana Souza would be a very good Mayor
    Sorry Marga, not going to buy your bull. You poor jealous soul.

  17. I live in San Leandro and can tell you Diana Souza wouldn't have a chance because she is laughed at by most of the town. She can't put two complete sentences together and in the Council meetings I've attended is the least prepared of all the Council. I would never vote for her for any office. What a joke.

  18. Cassidy is too stubborn for his own good and talks way too much.

  19. One of the main reasons the meetings are so long is Cassidy. He has to say something on all topics all the time. When Santos was Mayor, they didn't take as long.

  20. If you don't have the time to do the job right, you shouldn't run for office. San Leandro deserves much better.