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Monday, December 16, 2013

2013 Year-In-Review, Part I: The Fight Over Public Safety Erupts Over Bratton, Drones

PHOTO/Shane Bond
2013 | YEAR-IN-REVIEW | The spoils of the 2012 election season were received from Congress to the State Legislature to city councils throughout the East Bay. Crime continues to be a problem in Oakland, along with how to quell the violence and the annual East Bay Citizen Year-in-Review begins with the New Year the seeds of scandal for the next 12 months and beyond.

January 2013
>>>Changes abound: Oakland greets three new members to the City Council and name Pat Kernighan council president; Assemblymember Rob Bonta is only freshman named to a committee chair post; Rep. Eric Swalwell is named to the House Homeland Security Committee.

Swalwell with Sean Hannity.
>>>Rep. Eric Swalwell is sworn into office following his upset of Pete Stark and makes his first appearance on Fox News. His election was aided in part by Tri Valley conservatives, but the freshman congressman quickly calls for gun control in light of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting a month earlier.

>>>Assemblymember Nancy Skinner reintroduces a bill to regulate gun and ammunition sales in the state. The bill will later be signed into law and become one of the year's most notable pieces of legislation.

>>>Michael Mahoney, the long-time head of Hayward’s St. Rose Hospital, is pushed out, but not before nearly running the facility into the ground. The hospital also announces it can’t pay back a $1.1 million loan from the health care district. For his troubles, Mahoney receives a $1.2 million severance package.

>>>Oakland floats a plan ultimately approved to infuse its police force with 10 Alameda County sheriffs deputies for three months at a cost of $265,000. Later, at a City Council meeting, opponents of a $250,000 consulting contract to former LAPD and NYPD police chief Bill Bratton howl for his support of “Stop and Frisk.” By December, New York City's new mayor names him police commissioner.

>>>Who will run against Swalwell in 2014? State Sen. Ellen Corbett says she will and tells EBC another Democrat, Ro Khanna, would be wise to look elsewhere for a seat in Congress. “I don’t think it would turn out well for him,” she says. Apparently, he agreed.

>>>After over five hours of testimony from over 200 public speakers in Oakland voicing stern opposition to a consulting contract for Bill Bratton, the City Council registers its approval and adjourns at 2:51 a.m.

This story gets even better later in the year.
>>>A weird year for Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski begins with allegations his staff sought non-Democratic caucus voters to rig the Assembly District’s delegate elections for the April convention. The ploy, if true, does not work. He loses 9 of 12 seats. Nevertheless, he files a complaint and a re-vote follows. However, the slate representing Wieckowski’s loses again.

>>>Alameda County Health Care Services director says if San Leandro Hospital closes, it won’t be until Spring 2014. In hindsight, the news gave county officials time to negotiate a plan to save the hospital later in the year.

>>>The Coliseum JPA begins the road to a possible stadium solution in Oakland when it approves up to $1 million for site planning and market research. At this point, the Raiders say they are on board with the plan, but offer only tenuous support.

>>>Rep. Mike Honda’s bid for re-election receives the endorsement of President Obama…18 months before the June 2014 primary!...and without the presence of an actual official challenger.

>>>The Oakland Police Department’s compliance with court-mandated reforms regresses, says a report. In addition, the report also includes shocking allegations two OPD officers pointed their firearms at a sleeping 19-month-old baby during a bust.

February
Sweeney delivering a call to arms in Hayward.
>>>Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney, noting the school district’s ranking as the worst performing in Alameda County, says if only it could raise its scores to the middle of pack, homes in Hayward would be worth $100,000 or more.

>>>An Alameda County Superior Court judge finds the Alameda PD and Fire Department had no specific duty to save Raymond Zack from drowning himself at Crown Beach in Alameda. The infamous Memorial Day 2011 drowning brought national attention to the island when reports detailed public safety officials on the scene did not act as the mentally-ill Zack drowned himself.

>>>Contentious discussions over a plan by Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern to purchase two surveillance drones begins at a Board of Supervisors meeting. Supervisor Scott Haggerty lauds the plan, while Richard Valle pans it and the ACLU blasts it. The county still doesn't have drones, but the plan is still on hold.

>>>Low–wage hospitality workers at Pleasanton’s Castlewood Country Club, who were locked out for three years return to their jobs after agreeing to a new three-year contract. The long saga had become a local representation of the fight between haves and havenots with the 99 percent winning this small battle.

>>>In her State of the City address, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan peppers her speech with multiple “shoutouts” for improving the city on the themes of public safety, the arts and saving its sports teams.

March
>>>Citing an increase of rear-end collisions at intersections containing red-light cameras, the Hayward City Council immediately terminate the program, even though doing so cost the city $108,000. The police chief also supported the plan a majority of the council deemed not about money, but safety.

>>>Following the Sandy Hook shootings in Connecticut, the Oakland City Council passes a resolution prohibiting the city from investing in companies that manufacture guns and ammunition.

Haggerty's hijinks.
>>>Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty is in hot water. Reports surface an county grand jury may investigate a land deal gone bad alleged in court papers by his former chief of staff and the state Fair Political Practices Commission issues him a warning letter with no fine for campaign finance errors also alleged by the former employee.

>>>Scott Olsen, the former Iraq War veteran and Occupy Oakland protester who was shot in the head with a bean bag projectile fired by police, is upset during a City Council meeting when Mayor Jean Quan privately tells him he has “chip on his shoulder.” He tweets the comment and a photo also shows Quan playing with her cell phone as Olsen addresses the council.

>>>Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, a member of the House progressive caucus, at a fundraiser in Oakland, says he doesn't think Rep. Eric Swalwell is liberal enough and the caucus will “lean” on him to discern his true colors. Swalwell then cries to the House leadership and Ellison issues a statement labeling Swalwell a friend.

>>>Rep. Mike Honda releases an internal poll showing a whopping 52-point lead over Ro Khanna, even though the former Obama appointment to the Commerce Department has yet to join the race. Honda's early moves suggest to some he is sweating over the inclusion of the well-financed opponent.

>>>Oakland City Auditor Courtney Ruby drops the hammer with a scathing report alleging Councilmember Desley Brooks violated the city charter’s non-interference laws on 12 occasions surrounding the construction of a youth center in her district. Councilmember Larry Reid is also alleged to have violated the same prohibition. Both says the allegations are racially-motivated. A “Larry you are my brother” Facebook page in support of Reid later surfaces.

TUESDAY: the 2013 Year-in-Review continues with April-June.

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