Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wieckowski Launches Attempt For Another Alameda County Transportation Tax Measure

ASSEMBLY | Measure B1, the Alameda County initiative to fund transportation projects with a half-cent sales tax increase that failed last November by the slimmest of margins, may get another chance to go before voters.

Fremont Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski is resurrecting a variation of a bill successfully passed into law in 2011 allowing for the ill-fated Measure B1 to be placed on the ballot. If passed, AB 210 will grant Alameda County the window of opportunity to make another run at a second transportation measure sometime before Jan. 1, 2017.

Like Wieckowski’s previous bill that granted the county an exemption to raise local taxes in any given year more than the two percent threshold laid out in Proposition 13, this latest iteration would cap the potential measure at no more than 0.5 percent. However, the previous bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown characterized the exemption as one-time only.

Measure B1, which sought to reauthorize the successful transportation referendum, known as Measure B, failed to reach the necessary two-thirds majority needed for passage last November, garnering 66.53 percent of the vote, or just over 700 votes of winning. While the more densely-populated areas of the East Bay supported the measure in great numbers, voters in the Tri-Valley thwarted the effort. Just a single precinct in the entire region of Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore reached over two-thirds of the vote.

“The result of Measure B1 not only shows that the voters understand how important it is to invest in our infrastructure, but that a strong majority supports doing so,” said Wieckowski. “The transportation demands of the county are not going to disappear.”

The bill is co-authored by East Bay Assemblymembers Nancy Skinner, Rob Bonta, Joan Buchanan and Bill Quirk.

Report Details OPD Indiscriminately Pointing Weapon At Baby, 5 Others; As Compliance Regresses

OAKLAND | The court-appointed independent monitor overseeing reforms ordered a decade ago at the Oakland Police Department said compliance decreased for a second consecutive quarter, in a report released Thursday. The report also references shocking allegations of two OPD officers pointed their guns at a sleeping 19-month-old baby.

“During a search warrant, two officers pointed their firearms at a sleeping 19-month-old child who, of course, posed no immediate threat to the officers or others. The crime being investigated, according to the reports, involved a misdemeanor offense,” wrote Independent Monitor Robert Warshaw.

The 85-page document also reports five incidents occurring sometime between July 1, 2012 and September 30, 2012 when OPD officers raised their weapons at citizens while no crime was committed.

Despite comments made last week by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan sounding pleased by the OPD’s pace of conforming to the court-ordered reforms, Warshaw’s report casts a different light on the state of the department seemingly adverse to institutional change following the 2003 Riders police scandal.
The report admonishes the OPD was regressing in its compliance on two areas, specifically, supervisor/managerial accountability and reporting police misconduct.

“The shift from stagnation to decline should be as unacceptable to all Parties, as it is to us,” said Warshaw. “My hope would be that marking this backwards turn would become an opportunity for the Department to more fully assess its status regarding the Negotiated Settlement Agreement and to renew its original commitment, now a decade old, to effective and constitutional policing. One thing should be clear from the long history of this Agreement: stagnation – and, now, decline – will not diminish the Court’s expectation, or the Monitor’s resolve, that the Department live up to the terms of the Agreement.”

The act of pointing weapons on citizens without cause is an on-going problem with officers in Oakland. Thursday’s report is the seventh consecutive detailing the department out of compliance, noted Warshaw. In addition, the racial breakdown of 61 “use of force” events has remained consistent and sharply slanted toward black (70 percent) and Hispanic suspects (22 percent). Of those, according to Warshaw, 87 percent of the cases where OPD raised a firearm against black suspects were found to be unjustified, while 13 percent of Hispanic suspects were unnecessary. In contrast, only 3 percent of the events included whites and 2 percent for Asians.

OPD officers are also failing in large numbers to turn on digital video camera located on their shoulders during patrols, wrote Warshaw.

The report, however, gives no additional information about the alleged pointing of weapons by two officers at sleeping baby, other than the event occurred during a search warrant.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Reynoso Calls New Hayward School Board Member Walker a 'Fresh Voice'

HAYWARD SCHOOL BOARD | Consultant contracts have been controversial for Hayward school board with board member Luis Reynoso often criticizing staff and board approval of expensive contracts. He's often pressured staff to take on the extra load to cut down on district expenses but found his voice to be the marginalized opinion on the board.

But with new board member Annette Walker, it looks like Reynoso has a new ally in his fight for fiscal responsibility.
The state has made various trigger cuts in the past year cutting millions from school district offices thus limiting program opportunities, technology upgrades and prompted potential deficit spending at the district level.
Hayward school district faces no different of a challenge and Reynoso has been leading the fight to cut down on spending through the district office by slashing away at consultant contracts for audits. For Reynoso, the use of them could be severely limited to staff. “I can help you, I can show you how to do an audit,” Reynoso has often told staff.
Reynoso chimes in from a familiar fiscally conservative perspective whose voice only was accompanied at times by the more calm and diplomatic William McGee, who took Armas’s position over as president when he decided not to run for re-election after The Citizen exposed his affair with other former board member Maribel Heredia.
But that alliance was an isolated voice on a board whose majority slate was Lisa Brunner, Armas and Heredia. Furthermore, Armas’s animosity towards Reynoso stunted Reynoso’s objectives concerning fiscal responsibility and stricter regulations regarding board trustee behavior.

Since Armas was appointed president Reynoso sought to have him removed or defeated in election by some means. The Citizen ended up being the hammer that nailed the coffin shut by exposing Armas’s affair but Reynoso at almost every board meeting since the article ran reminded Armas and Heredia of their potential sunshine law violation. McGee was critical as well but without the firebrand attitude that Reynoso commonly espoused.
However, a new board with a different perspective is taking shape. Enter Walker: a passionate voice with political swagger. During the new board’s first meeting she joined with Reynoso in extra harsh criticisms of staff’s recommendation for more consultant contracts. It was surprising given former tension between Reynoso and herself.
She clashed with Reynoso during the campaign once during a candidate forum when Reynoso said that he only saw new board member, candidate at the time, John Taylor and former candidate, Heather Reyes, were attending board meetings. Walker was furious; she stormed to the front of the audience after Reynoso’s insult. It was obvious; she wanted to give him piece of her mind, “There is something called a T.V. We can watch it from home!” Afterwards Walker said she was greatly insulted by Reynoso and even then, both Reynoso and Taylor believed that she was not familiar enough with the education code.
But after January, 16 meeting Reynoso couldn’t have been happier with Walker who showed a fervor to crack down on expensive consultant contracts.
But Taylor, whose been critical about Reynoso during the election season for his abrasive attitude, but also supportive of his crusade against Armas and Heredia, was far less enthusiastic in making the “staff dance,” as Reynoso called it, on consultant contracts.
The SI&A contract was up for a vote to conduct an audit on special education with the district to help implement methods to save the district funds. SI&A said the district spends $400,000 a year on non-public agencies and that it could help the district cut down on those costs. Staff claimed that with SI&A they could later conduct the audit themselves. However, Reynoso said “that it just didn’t make any sense.” Walker later added that “It frustrates me to hear that it takes another consultant to tell us what a consultant has already told us and when it comes time for us to take that responsibility we end up outsourcing again.” Reynoso called Walker’s comment a “fresh voice,” to hear on contracts. "She sees the light!" exclaimed Reynoso after the meeting.
Taylor wasn’t convinced in the slightest. “We have to stop this bickering over consultant contracts, its about the kids and these are kids with special needs!” said Taylor. “We need to be professionals and need to be able to help them on every level and we need to provide staff with the right resources. I'm not moved with saving money here and saving money here, we need to save money in the right areas but for special ed we need the resources so I support you.”
But on another financial matter, Taylor supported rescinding a previous vote made by the old board concerning Measure I funds. The rescinding vote was put on the agenda by Reynoso who sought for more oversight. Taylor, who had trouble figuring out how to vote, voted no by accident. “I didn’t mean to do that,” admitted Taylor later. After the meeting Taylor said to Reynoso, “you wanted accountability, so you got it!” Brunner, formerly of the old majority, was the lone, true vote against rescinding the measure. But her questions over the rescinding vote displayed a lack of understanding on why Reynoso sought to rescind.
Taylor may be a swing vote for future financial matters but Walker, McGee and Reynoso look to be the new driving force on the board.
Shane Bond is an East Bay Citizen contributor.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

San Leandro Police Hope To Dramatically Increase Personnel

SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | San Leandro is looking to dramatically increase its police force by 18 officers in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting. The funding depends greatly on the federal budget, which is a hot topic right now in Washington, but gives no guarantee for San Leandro to acquire funding for officers outside of hiring 8 school resource officers.

There are three separate measures that San Leandro police hope to initiate. The first concerns current federal COP grant for five officers that include one safety resource officer, a bicycle cop, two gang suppression officers and one crime prevention officer. Currently San Leandro has 90 officers and the grant keeps that level above the city’s minimal police staffing requirement, which is 86.

But if the grant isn’t extended then the police force in San Leandro, which is already strained with an increase in 911 calls in the past two years and an increase in city population over the last 20 years, will have to burden the weight with a smaller force. Furthermore, San Leandro has witnessed a 10 percent increase in crime in 2012, although overall crime in San Leandro since 2008 is down.

The second measure includes 10 regional collaboration officers to focus on regional crime suppression by working with Oakland police and Alameda Sheriff’s Department. According to a Joint Public Safety Initiatives (JPSI), 40 percent of arrests in San Leandro are residents of Oakland, the third most violent city in America. Recently Oakland has been embroiled in heated debate over its high crime rate with the city’s populace angry over police shootings as well as a high homicide rate.

San Leandro police draw concerns from this violence noting that they share a border with the city. According to the JPSI, “Current crime trends indicate teams of traveling criminals based in San Leandro and neighboring cities are responsible for significant increases in violent and property crimes.” According to the San Leandro Chief of Police Sandra Spagnoli, these officers would be promoted from within the police force and additional 10 officers would be recruited to fill the vacancies.

The city also wants eight more SROs in addition to its current two SROs. Spagnoli said its disconcerting only two SROs currently cover 20 schools. If eight more are added there would be an SRO assigned to two schools to increase public safety standards, said Spagnoli. The tragedy at Sandy Hook has given the police an opportunity to increase security at schools for the first time since the federal government cut funding to school safety programs, added Spagnoli.

But funding for this dramatic increase in police is near impossible without a federal grant. Furthermore, grants only last a specific amount of time otherwise layoffs will occur or the city will have to leverage the weight of the funding through some other means. No distinct funding opportunity is available to the city just yet as the council and the police department brace for the outcome of discussion in Congress over various gun control bills.

Although funding for SROs looks far more hopeful. President Barack Obama this past week signed an executive order to provide local communities the opportunity to hire up to 1,000 SROs and counselors. Len Simon, a contracted consultant and San Leandro’s federal liaison, noted that it is likely that San Leandro can acquire funding from this executive order to fund their prospective eight new SROs.

Shane Bond is an East Bay Citizen contributor.

Alameda County Supervisor Miley: ‘It's A Culture Of Lawlessness In Oakland’

ALAMEDA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS | As a former Oakland City Council member, resident and current Alameda County supervisor for a portion of the city, Nate Miley is worried about his crime-riddled city.

“It’s a culture of lawlessness, I think, in Oakland,” Miley said during Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, “and it’s pervasive in different parts of the city.”
Sup. Nate Miley, center, with Oakland
Councilmembers Pat Kernighan,
Libby Schaaf.
Miley’s comments came on the heels of the furor by some Oakland residents over the City Council approving a police consultant contract with celebrated crime fighter William Bratton, along with a package of resolutions for additional police officers, civilian crime lab workers and the short-term use of 10 Alameda County sheriffs deputies. The latter was slated for approval on the supervisors’ agenda for Tuesday.

Miley said he offered a letter of support last week to the council’s for its move to stem the seemingly continuous flow of violent crime in Oakland. The use of sheriffs deputies is not a long-term solution, Miley said, but a prudent short-term expenditure for the city, “because there’s just too much disregard—disrespect—for property and lives in the city.”

The long-time supervisor, often prone to bellicose statements, criticized some who last week spoke in favor of very limited numbers of police officers in Oakland or for dwelling on the fact some bad apples exist at all police departments. Those who violate the public's trust should be held accountable, he said.

“That doesn’t mean sometimes we don’t have law enforcement officers because someone is acting inappropriately,” he said. “If we throw out all law enforcement there would be chaos because, I think, there are some idiots out there and evil people who will take advantage of that situation. Now, this is Nate Miley talking and you may not agree with me and I really don’t care if you agree with me or not.”

Miley also said residents in other parts of the county equate the video this week of sideshows on the Oakland portion of Interstate 880 with the strongly-held perception the city is out of control.

Later, Miley urged the city of Oakland to partner with the county’s proposed state-of-the-art crime lab at 2901 Peralta Oaks Court. Two grand jury reports have sharply criticized Oakland and Alameda County over the lack of progress in processing a large amount of backlogged cases. Miley also hinted Oakland should partner in the future with the county’s Sheriff’s Department in organizing police academies for both agencies.

“The politics in Oakland have to stop because people are dying,” said Miley. “It’s got to stop because enough is enough.”

Monday, January 28, 2013

After Poor Results In 25th Assembly Delegate Elections, Wieckowski Asks For Re-Vote, Risks Alienating Minorities

ASSEMBLY 25 | Winners of the 25th Assembly District delegates election say Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski’s office is attempting to overturn the results, which critics say will disenfranchise many of the Fremont and Santa Clara County minority groups whose opposing slate of candidates successfully won 9 of the 12 seats two weeks ago.

At issue is at least 40 non-Democrats and decline to state voters who may have been among the over 400 votes cast Jan. 12 when party faithful chose all-important delegates to the next two Democratic Party convention. Candidates often run on slates under the direction of party leaders. They also underscore the importance for some forward-thinking elected officials, like Wieckowski, who have an eye on procuring crucial party endorsements for future runs for higher office. Most believe Wieckowski will run for the state Senate in 2014 after four years representing the Fremont area in the Assembly.

However, Wieckowski’s slate of candidates was nearly swept away this month--a serious, but not fatal blow to his reputation. Now critics are labeling an attempt to overturn the results led by his firebrand Chief of Staff Trisha Tahmasbi as sour grapes. Wieckowski’s office filed a complaint with the party’s Compliance Review Commission on Jan. 18 seeking to overturn the election and allow for a re-vote. The deadline to submit testimony and evidence is Tuesday, Jan. 29.

In the complaint, signed by Wieckowski and Alameda County Democratic Party chair Robin Torrello, among others, it claims chatter Jan. 12 among attendees that some without the party’s affiliation had already voted. This led a group to sample the credentials of ballots already cast. The letter alleges over 40 non-democrats registered a vote, a clear violation of party bylaws.

Some of the winners, however, say the Tahmasbi’s allegations are hypocritical since most of non-Democrats were brought in by Wieckowski’s office and actually voted for the assemblyman’s slate of candidates. “After we won, the assemblymember's chief of staff did not like the results and retroactively called for voter registration to be checked,” the group of winners said in an email to party officials. “This is rank hypocrisy because many of the illegitimate voters were ones that voted for the assemblymember's slate.”

The group was also upset when Tahmasbi allegedly erupted in anger the same day and threatened to alert the state Attorney General to prosecute ineligible voters for perjury. They also believe she should be censured for her alleged actions. “Many of the Asian American voters who have heard about this are dismayed, frightened and intimidated. They are concerned about the impact to their reputations when they feel they are innocent and have been maligned for no fault of their own.”

On Monday, Tahmasbi said the allegations are “completely ridiculous and contradictory.” “Why would we encourage non-democrats to turnout for a democratic delegate election, and then threaten to pass their names along to the Attorney General's office for voter fraud?” said Tahmasbi. “One can easily see the absurdity in those dueling accusations. We had nothing to do with either.” She also believes none of the non-democrats who may have voted did so maliciously, but were misinformed about the rules.

One winning delegate, who chose not to be identified, said the convener of the election was alerted the Friday before about rumors the Wieckowski slate might bring non-democrats to the vote. The convener downplayed their concerns, they said, but upon arriving at the hall, some were surprised to also see members of Wieckowski’s staff facilitating the election process. “We have been cheated by the assemblymember and stabbed in the back by his chief of staff,” said the delegate of the district’s large Asian American constituency.

Several sources say they believe Tahmasbi’s actions are unwittingly undercutting her boss’s reputation in south county and Santa Clara County even as many of the non-Wieckowski delegate winners are among some of his strongest supporters. Tahmasbi’s arm-twisting has caused tension in the Fremont area as recently as last September when some supporters of Fremont Councilwoman Anu Natarajan, then running for mayor against the fellow Councilman Bill Harrison, blamed Tahmasbi for their candidate losing the party’s endorsement.

Honda’s Surprise Early Endorsement From President Is A Sign Of Desperation

President Obama, Rep. Mike Honda
CONGRESS 17 | If Rep. Eric Swalwell’s defeat of Pete Stark has any lasting effects, it is within the realm of making similarly older representatives in the Bay Area caucus, like Rep. Mike Honda, worried they could be next.

Honda, according to insiders in the South Bay, is one of those hoping he isn’t the, so-called, next Stark, who sticks around one election cycle too long before being overrun by a more ambitious challenger in their 30s.

Honda’s worry appears to have manifested itself Monday with President Obama's endorsement of his candidacy in 2014. If you may recall, Honda just won re-election last November, but the help of the president and, by extension, the party establishment, so early in the game is a clear signal he is deathly worried about the possibility of Ro Khanna running for his seat in the 17th Congressional District.

“Congressman Mike Honda is the right leader for the 17th district,” Obama said, while adding, “We need Congressman Mike Honda in the United States Congress, and I urge you to vote to keep him there.”

Ro Khanna
The upshot of the announcement, undoubtedly, is for Honda to accentuate the storyline of Khanna, a former Obama appointee to the Commerce Department, being passed over for support of the 71-year-old Honda. However, much of this story needs to be read between the lines.

Last week, the Democratic National Committee jettisoned Honda as its vice chair in favor of the youngest member of Congress, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI). She is the same freshman lawmaker, who follows, in the vein of Swalwellian over ambitiousness, applied for the appointment to Sen. Daniel Inouye’s U.S. Senate seat following his passing last month--just three days before she was even sworn-in for her first term in Congress.

In addition, there is common agreement Honda is one of the most gracious members of the Bay Area congressional caucus, so it is no surprise he was given various escape routes to other jobs in government allowing him to save face, rather than potentially face Khanna and his strong ties in Silicon Valley and, most importantly, his $1 million-and-counting war chest.

Apparently, a seat, say on the Federal Election Committee or a continuing role in education, is of no interest to Honda. Enter the president.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Coliseum Notes: A's, Giants Settlement Just Another Rumor, Says Official; More Courtside Seating For Warriors

Rendering of Cisco Field:
Future home of the A's?
A’S/GIANTS SETTLEMENT RUMOR Last Wednesday, various online outlets reported rumors of an impending settlement between the A’s and San Francisco Giants over territorial rights to San Jose. It is the stated intent of A’s management to pursue a 38,000-seat ballpark in San Jose, but the team ceded rights to the South Bay two decades ago to the Giants. The attention of bloggers was raised Wednesday after an appearance by Giants CEO Larry Baer on the MLB Network in which he stated the A’s need a new ballpark. After Friday’s OACCA meeting at Oracle Arena, Oakland Assistant City Administrator Fred Blackwell said it’s all a rumor and more of the same, at that. “Every few months there’s a rumor about what the A’s are doing and what the Giants are doing and I’ve kind of gotten to the point where I don’t really listen to them anymore," said Blackwell. "Until somebody tells me we are out of the game and it’s a communication from Major League Baseball, I consider it a rumor.” However, if the rumor turns out to be true, it would remove, by far, the biggest obstacle in the A’s way to San Jose.

ORACLE TO GET MORE COURTSIDE SEATING? The Golden State Warriors surprising first half of the NBA season may further enrich its owners and the Authority. OACCA Executive Director Scott Johnson says the Authority is looking to add a second tier of premium courtside seating. The roughly 113 additional seats could follow a similar configuration used by the Phoenix Suns, said Johnson. He says the Authority is currently looking for architecture plans to facilitate adding the potential second row of seating and it could be completed in time for the start of the 2013-14 season. Johnson also says Warriors management has requested unspecified improvements to Oracle Arena.

MILEY NAMED CHAIR The Authority appointed Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley as its next chair. He replaces former Oakland Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente, who was defeated in his run last year for the Oakland City Council At-Large seat. Oakland Vice Mayor Larry Reid, just appointed back to the Authority last Tuesday, was named vice chair. Miley said he believes deal for all three sports franchises can be gained in an equitable fashion for all sides, but he also flashed he well-known pique by referring to the infamously inequitable return of the Raiders in 1995. Said Miley: "I'm not going to get screwed over like the last time."Watch out for Miley. Staffers have long joked about his propensity for misusing sports metaphors. Hopefully, he won't tell the Raiders to "punt" when they decide whether to stay in Oakland or not.

Coliseum Authority Approves $1 Million Stadium Studies With Tenuous Support From Raiders

Coliseum City
COLISEUM AUTHORITY | The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority approved a pair of studies for a new football stadium to potentially house the Oakland Raiders Friday morning costing $1 million, despite signs the franchise and the NFL are cool towards the reviews.

The authority signed off to contract out to a firm specializing in site planning for an estimated $500,000, along with seeking proposals for another $500,000 review looking at the revenue potential and market demand for a new stadium at the current Coliseum complex. However, the latter review includes the Raiders pitching in one-third of the cost, or, roughly $160,000. If and when the Raiders would reimburse the joint powers authority left some commissioners confused, although Oakland Assistant City Administrator Fred Blackwell assured the authority the Raiders were on board.

“The Raiders are the only team with interest in Oakland,” said Blackwell, “but they also have other options.” The team has reportedly also shown in interest in returning to Los Angeles, along with the City of Industry being another option down south. The team and county are also in negotiation for extending its lease at O.co Coliseum. However, the most immediate option for the Raiders, Blackwell said, is to become joint tenants at the 49ers new stadium in Santa Clara, currently under construction.

Despite attempts by some commissioners to suss out the Raiders true intent with the future Coliseum City proposal, some like Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty and Authority Commissioner Aaron Goodwin were not swayed. Both registered uncertainty whether the Authority will have any concrete assurances the Raiders will eventually pay their portion of the study. Blackwell said negotiations with Raiders over whether they will pay for a certain block of the costs or a small portion of multiple aspects of the study have not begun. Goodwin was not convinced just as Haggerty blurted out, “I know. It’s vague.”

In addition, Blackwell told The Citizen there is nothing to be read into the presence in Friday’s agenda of the word “stadium” in the singular. The original Coliseum City plan envisions new stadiums for all three tenants. “The best way to think about this is Coliseum City has a vision for multiple sports facilities and ancillary development and we’re pursuing the Raiders first as an anchor tenant.”

One of ideas being bandied about, said Blackwell, is the possibility of adding a retractable roof to the stadium plan. “We’re going to be lucky to find enough money and now we want to put a roof on it?” said Haggerty, who added later, “I’m getting a little nervous if we’re going to spend time on the roof.” Haggerty said the added feature could double the cost of the stadium. Blackwell, however, believes a retractable roof allows the facility to host more events, year-round, which in turn, could fund the extra construction costs.

Blackwell said the city has had one face-to-face meeting with NFL officials over the Raiders stadium issue. However, he says the NFL was less interested in the Coliseum City proposal, which includes retail and hotel options, and more keen on hearing solely about the stadium portion. When asked by a commissioner to describe the NFL’s reaction to the proposal, Blackwell said, “The NFL is frustrated with the pace of the negotiations.” In addition, NFL officials may also be upset the authority’s plan for the revenue study, approved today.

Haggerty met last week with an unnamed group which claims the NFL is “irritated” by the Authority study, he said, even as the NFL and the Raiders have already commissioned their study on the same subject. “Even if they’re agitated, that shouldn’t concern our decision-making process,” said Blackwell, after admitting, himself, the perception the Raiders were “not all-in” stemmed from the likelihood of duplicate studies. Blackwell added the NFL/Raiders study will only look at potential gameday revenues at the new stadium, while the Authority’s will present a more comprehensive year-round estimate, in addition, to furnishing themselves with an independent study.

How the Authority will pay the $1 million in total costs for the two studies also rankled some commissioners. According to Alameda County Auditor-Controller Pat O’Connell, the Authority will “short” a $3.5 million capital improvements fund previously earmarked for a new scoreboard at O.co Coliseum. The Oakland Athletics and the Authority have been in negotiations to replace the out-of-date scoreboards, said Goodwin, and Friday’s decision may negatively impact relations with the A’s, also in search of a new ballpark.

“What’s the message we’re sending to the A’s?” Goodwin asked. According to staff, the A’s estimate the costs of the scoreboards to be $4 million. “Well, it better cost closer to $2.5 million, if we do what we’re about to do,” countered Haggerty. The alternative, said O’Connell, would be to ask the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and Oakland City Council for addition funds, a move likely unpopular on both fronts.

“If we don’t do this, the Raiders will leave,” said Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan in response to the signal not approving the study will have on the delicate negotiations to retain the county’s sports franchises. Kaplan was appointed to the commission last Tuesday, along with Oakland Vice Mayor Larry Reid.

“We have three teams, two facilities and a majority of them are saying they’re leaving,” said Haggerty. “If you we’re to ask me if I we’re a betting man, I would say we can probably save two of them.” Haggerty, however, would not reveal which teams he believes will remain in Oakland.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Alameda County Official Says Sutter Will Not Close San Leandro Hospital Until 2014, At Earliest

HEALTH CARE | Sutter Health's long-held intention to shut down San Leandro Hospital will not happen this year, says the director of the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency, but as early as spring 2014.

The reason for the delay, says Alex Briscoe, is not due to Sutter’s indecision over shuttering the hospital and its much-needed emergency room, but because of the timing of a crucial assessment report compiled by the county and presented to the state Dept of Health Services that will highlight any impacts the closure of San Leandro Hospital will have on the region’s health care delivery system.

“That report will look better for Sutter when Kaiser San Leandro numbers are added,” says Briscoe, referring to the new Kaiser Permanente hospital currently in construction in San Leandro near Marina Boulevard and due to open sometime in the first quarter of 2014.

Without the presence of Kaiser San Leandro in the report, says Briscoe, the area’s emergency medical services and general acute care statistics might shed questions about the impact of closing an emergency room also within a hospital already seismically safe.

An impact assessment report would not be prepared until triggered by Sutter officially announcing its intent to close San Leandro Hospital and due to the state within 60-90 days, says Briscoe. The contents of such report would also come before the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, which could become the last bright flashpoint for community leaders and supporters of keeping the facility open to express their views.

Such a report, however, would not so much delve into questions of whether new hospitals, such as Sutter’s Castro Valley facility and Kaiser’s San Leandro building, have smaller capacities for emergency room beds, says Briscoe, citing an industry-wide move towards shorter stays. Aside from the business aspect of maintaining efficiency, the smaller number of beds, however, will impact the county greatly in the face of a natural disaster. “In terms of disaster preparedness, the county is already short on ER beds,” said Briscoe. It is another reason, he says, why the county greatly focused on propping up operations at Hayward’s St. Rose Hospital with subsidies over the past year.

Stacey Wells, Sutter Health’s spokesperson, said Thursday, “We understand process and capacity issues. As Alex well knows from our discussions with him, we share his concerns, which is why we are looking at all options.”

Regarding, the collapse of a plan put forth by the Alameda County Medical Center to take over San Leandro Hospital and operate it in its current form as an acute general care facility with round-the-clock ER services with $3 million subsidies from three different government bodies, Briscoe says he is flummoxed by Sutter’s disinterest.

“For reasons I don’t understand, they didn’t accept it,” he says of Sutter, and adding the ACMC was the only viable option for the ER at San Leandro Hospital. “They are largely concerned with general acute care at San Leandro and that it could negatively impact Sutter Castro Valley.”

Briscoe says he doesn’t agree with the assessment for many reasons, chief among them, that the new Sutter Castro Valley (formerly Eden Hospital) will not draw from the same pool of patients as San Leandro Hospital, which feature a high number of people with Medicare and the uninsured.

Sutter, however, has never publicly admitted having competition in San Leandro while its constructs its $320 million facility in Castro Valley is the reason for its intention to close San Leandro Hospital. Instead, it has long maintained the hospital, which it purchased from the Eden Township Healthcare District last year, is losing money.

If all goes as planned for Sutter, San Leandro Hospital will not lay idle, but continue as an acute rehabilitation facility. It is plan once backed by county as late as 2010 to cure a lack of rehab beds following the closing of the seismically-deficient Fairmont Hospital.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pro-Coliseum City Advocates Reid, Kaplan Added To Coliseum Authority; Oakland Council Boots Brooks

OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | Before a long and contentious night that featured passionate debate over public safety, the Oakland City Council resumed its fractious infighting ways on an unexpected issue: the appointment of two members to the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority.

The council unanimously appointed Councilmember Larry Reid to the Coliseum commission Tuesday night, replacing the outgoing Ignacio De La Fuente, but a virtual cat fight ensued between Councilmember Desley Brooks who prodded her colleagues, Rebecca Kaplan and Council President Pat Kernighan, while attempting to educate new council member Dan Kalb on the authority's function.

Kaplan was later appointed to replace Brooks on the commission, but not without Brooks questioning Kernighan’s motives for the move.

“If anybody has done their homework on what I’ve done, it doesn’t make sense to replace me,” said Brooks, who along with two dozen public speakers, attempted to make a case for her reappointing to the joint powers authority overseeing the Coliseum.

Desley Brooks
The often combative Brooks ticked off a trio of possible reasons for the decision to remove her from the authority, ranging from a reported clash of personalities between her and fellow commission member Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty and questions over the terms of the original appointment being only for two years.

“When the president gives an alternative reason why an action is being taken, I must respond,” Brooks said while claiming she heard of the decision from a resident, not Kernighan. “That is hardly the civility and goodwill that has been expressed,” Brooks responded with allusions of having second thoughts about voting for Kernighan last week for council president.

“There must be something more than looking at the record,” Brooks continued. “Call it what it is. It is when you use multiple excuses and don’t look at the record.” A third seat on the authority is open, Brooks also said to further her case. However, the resignation of current Commissioner Yui Hay Lee was rescinded, Kernighan said Tuesday night.

“Oh, lord guard my tongue from evil and let us focus on this city,” Kaplan said with somewhat comical exasperation. The addition of Kaplan and Reid to the authority will add a more pro-stadium, pro-sports franchise to the mix, as opposed to the timid support in the past from De La Fuente, who during the past campaign against Kaplan for City Council last year, registered second thoughts over his role in bringing the Raiders back to Oakland in 1995, and Brooks, whose perchance for vitriol among colleagues is well-known.

“It’s not about adding more games, but adding those other businesses,” said Kaplan, referring to her support of the Coliseum City plan at the site of the current stadium and arena. Customers and fans heading to the Coliseum need a place to have dinner or a drink before and after events, said Kaplan.

“I’m not saying Ms. Brooks did a bad job,” said Kernighan. However, her words were drowned out by hecklers in the audience and Kernighan, perhaps conveniently, never finished her thought.

The OACCA meets this Friday, 8:30 a.m., Oracle Arena Plaza Club, 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland. Among the items on the agenda: election of the authority’s new chair and approval to conduct two studies involving revenue potential and market demand for a new stadium at the Coliseum and a site plan for the project.

Despite Long Hours, Over 200 Speakers In Opposition, Oakland Council Approves Police Consulting Contract

OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | After over nine hours of public testimony reaching into the early morning hours, the Oakland City Council approved a controversial consulting contract including noted law enforcement expert William Bratton.

Despite over 200 speakers, nearly all in opposition of the Bratton contract, the council voted to approve the $250,000 consulting contract, 7-1, with only Councilmember Desley Brooks in opposition. The council also unanimously approved a package of resolutions to add civilian employees to the city’s crime lab and a 90-day plan to add 10 Alameda County sheriff’s deputies to the force. The meeting adjourned at 2:51 a.m, Wednesday and featured over five hours of debate on the Bratton contract alone.

However, the tenor of the normally raucous council chambers was for the most part polite and attentive, but as the clock neared midnight, streams of public speakers laid invective at Council President Pat Kernighan and the state of its police department in similar fashion as last week’s contentious public safety committee.

With Oakland Police Chief assuring the council the results of the consulting contract would be “inclusive and transparent,” it was Brooks who poked a series of holes in the proposed contract, while also admonishing her colleagues for not actually reading the document.

“We are feeding into the politics of fear,” said Brooks, who added she was troubled by some council members at last week’s public safety meeting who “pass something that had not read.” Brooks also questioned documents showing Bratton would only come to Oakland in three times in six months, according to schedule not provided to public.

Jordan also could not answer query made by Brooks over how much of the $250,000 contract would be paid to Bratton. Most shocking, Brooks read into the record a line from the contract that appeared offensive and divisive to the segments of the community, specifically, one plan for the rich in the Oakland Hills and one for the poor in other parts of the city. “There is a strategy for the hills and one for the flatlands,” Brooks said.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said she strongly support the Bratton contract and added, “Sometimes you need an outside eye.”

Kernighan, who at times, amid the cacophony of protesters in chambers, lost control of the room to a certain extent, that some council members, especially Lynette Gibson McElhaney put the onus on themselves to bring order, said she fully supported the chief’s plan. “I firmly believe there is a legitimate role for police,” said Kernighan. “We understand police need to be operating properly within the Constitution.”

To assuage much fear and anger from the public, Councilmember Dan Kalb motioned to add three sentences to the resolution strengthening the council’s opposition to racial profiling and make constitutional policing a top priority.

Councilmember Noel Gallo, at nearly 2 a.m., forcefully defending the contract, even as the renewed energy to the chambers also awoke the few left in attendance that rained catcalls on him. “We’re losing too many children, neighbors, grandmas to crime,” he said. “I can’t sit here any longer debating the terminology. I’m going to support my police chief. I’m not an expert. I’m going to rely on the police chief and his staff.”

Clearly, losing stamina, McElhaney said she was placing her trust in Jordan to make the necessary changes to the department before saying, “The OPD is in need of a fixin’.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Corbett Says Khanna Not Angling For Run Against Her, Swalwell in 2014

CONGRESS | State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett has been making her rounds ever since Rep. Eric Swalwell was elected to Congress this past fall gathering support for her 2014 run against the new incumbent but also expressing some confidence that Ro Khanna, the other potential candidate and former aid to President Obama, will not run against Swalwell and Corbett in 2014.

Corbett told The Citizen that if Khanna runs, it would “just not work out well for him,” because the votes that would split between her and Swalwell. “I just don’t think he will be running,” said Corbett with confidence. In December, The Citizen reported Khanna and Corbett had a meeting a few weeks ago to discuss the 2014 run. Khanna told The Citizen then that the plan being offered to him would be to have Corbett run against Swalwell while Khanna could take on Rep. Mike Honda.

Corbett was questioned about this information that Khanna leaked to The Citizen but Corbett would not confirm this meeting happened or comment further other than a secretive, “Ro has been going around saying things,” and “I’m not the person to really talk about that.”

The state legislator believes the Alameda County Democratic Party will back her run in 2014 against Swalwell stating that the support she’s receiving is looking good for her. Swalwell pulled much of his support from new district boundaries that includes Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore, but Corbett is confident of the Tri Valley backing her, too. “It looks good over there,” she said.

Corbett says that her move to Congress is the next “logical step,” because of her experience in government. “I’ve been through all the ups and downs of the district and I have great support. It’s nothing personnel about Eric but I’ve been doing public service all my life.”

Swalwell has witnessed some support in Congress recently when Steny Hoyer, an Ellen Tauscher ally and Swalwell’s biggest supporter, appointed him as assistant whip. Further, Swalwell made it onto the Homeland Security Committee and the Space, Technology and Science Committee. But he’s still vulnerable considering this is his first term in Congress.

Swalwell has grave inexperience in public service and he will have to demonstrate an aptitude to getting work done in federal office or his shot at re-election will only become tougher. If Swalwell makes it past this term unscathed enough then he will be looking at a greater safe haven in his Congressional seat more than he does now.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Makings Of A Media Whore

SUNDAY COLUMN | Rep. Eric Swalwell is a young politician and like many experienced people in all ranges of endeavors, they are susceptible to learning bad habits early. The East Bay’s pubescent congressman discovered very early in his low-budget campaign to unseat the far more financed Pete Stark that free advertising by way of a complacent and enamored local media was the only way to effectively get out his message.

Such leaning on the media for a free ride, however well it worked in getting the 32-year-old Swalwell to Congress, may well have a corrosive effect going forward, especially since it seems to only encourage his already apparent predilection toward campy or strained publicity stunts. If the first few weeks of the Swalwell era in Congress are any indication, he is showing the makings of an enormous media hog willing to put his face in front of any camera while provocatively baiting well-known conservative bullies to sweep him before their enormous audiences.

The New Republic provides a good primer on Swalwell’s use of gimmicks to bring attention to himself going as far back as college. That led to his routine use of rubber ducks to mock Stark avoiding a second debate last year. Nevermind that the Stark campaign called him out for employing a fleet of yellow duckies made in China. Further recall that although Stark did much to get the media’s negative attention, while Swalwell deftly capitalized on it, there were frequent dead periods as Stark laid low when Swalwell distributed his own story lines to the media that either never caught fire or were ignored.

The furor offered by Alberto Torrico accusing Stark of bullying after registering support for Swalwell was manufactured. A report by KGO-TV even reveals it was Swalwell’s campaign who distributed Torrico’s hilarious victimization. Anger over Stark’s children receiving social security benefits was a Swalwell construct, too. Other times, the gambit failed, like when it they could find no takers for a story accusing Stark of using campaign funds to hire a clown to entertain at his children’s birthday party over three years ago.

These types of media tricks, of course, served their purpose then, but fail to work while in office without a definable foil. Cue Swalwell, the talking head. Since early December, Swalwell has made the rounds around the local radio dial, showed up on the local news in the run up to being sworn-in Jan. 3. All normal modes of introducing himself to the public, however, it has quickly morphed into a readily identifiable pattern of Swalwell searching for free national media anywhere he can grab it.

His appearance two weeks ago on with Sean Hannity on Fox News was surely a head scratcher for some local Democrats, who told The Citizen last Jan. 13 at party convention caucuses, its showed nobody in D.C. was watching over him. Meaning, if Democratic House members surely cared about his tenure in the 15th District, they would have talked him out of going on Hannity to be ambushed by the conservative firebrand. Indeed, that’s what happened as Hannity blitzed Swalwell on gun control and the right to privacy, while the Republican congressman appearing in the same segment was totally ignored.

Swalwell’s most desperate move for free media attention; however, came a few days before his debut on Fox News. In a tweet sent Jan. 7, Swalwell was clearly attempting to shove his way into a shouting match with conservative icon Rush Limbaugh, tweeting, “@RushLimbaugh calls ‘gay marriage’ the ‘normalization of pedophilia.’ From the guy w/ 3 ex-wives. #Unreal .“

Rushbo didn’t bite on Swalwell’s incendiary tweet, but the undisguised move by Swalwell, if anything, shows the rookie envisions himself in the starting lineup along with Reps. John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi and other A-list congressional stars. It has shown that he sees questions about his liberalism as a potential negative in his district. If not, why attempt to cold-cock the biggest Republican bad guy immediately upon being handcuffed in the uber-unpopular congress?

What remains to be seen is whether he will strive to earn respect through legislation and leadership or will he continue to rely on strategies usually employed by television reality stars? In that case, Swalwell can never hope to eclipse Honey Boo Boo.

TWEET OF THE WEEK “My thoughts and prayers go out to KTVU who had a laptop stolen in Oakland. #news” - @_MikeT_ , Jan. 11, mocking news of another attack of members of the media on the streets of Oakland in the days after another round of murders to start the new year.

WEEK THAT WAS & WILL BE A barrage of meows and “fuck you, Chief Jordan!” rained down from the Oakland City Council chambers this week as its public safety committee recommended a $250,000 consulting contract for revamping the moribund and short-staffed police department to the full council. However, it seeks the right to exclude former New York City and Los Angeles super cop William Bratton from the contract. That means: we’re back at it next Tuesday, Jan. 22, for another raucous and venomous council meeting.

Fremont added a new member to its council for the third time in two years with the appointment of Raj Salwan. His appointment gives the council a distinctly Asian Persuasion for the first time in its history with fellow Indian American Anu Natarajan, who, by the way, did not vote for Salwan, and Suzanne Lee Chan.

The East Bay’s two newest members of the assembly are starting in definite divergent paths. While Assemblyman Rob Bonta has offered his first bills in the Legislature and appeared in high-profile press conferences with Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner and Assembly Speaker John Perez, it has not been an auspicious start for Hayward Assemblyman Bill Quirk. He told The Citizen this week it will be some time before his offers legislation and, frankly, is having difficulty adjusting to Sacramento’s brand of politics.

Speaking of Hayward, its reformulated school board will take up the hot-button discussion of guns in the classroom in coming weeks and public employees in San Leandro may be nearing a new contract despite difficulties with the mayor and City Council. Workers, including the power police officers association, had been on the job since the previous contract expired last Dec. 31. The issue slated for discussion in closed session, Jan. 21. If no deal is struck, sources saying the unions may request binding arbitration—a scenario often hostile to management’s concerns.

QUOTABLE "Stop the behavior when it's small, stop the cancer when it's small," William Bratton, to The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 18, repeating his often used analogy linking his brand of law enforcement to eradicating cancer.

BEST READS Read how another increase in the number of gang injunctions in Anaheim is working. Keep in mind, some city leaders in Oakland still hope to revive the controversial method of law enforcement. (OC Weekly, Jan. 18)

"Is Realignment a Model for Reform?" asks the East Bay Express in its cover story this week. (East Bay Express, Jan. 16).

"Wright Lassiter's Audacious Vision for Safety Nets" apparently includes quiting the job before the plan is fully realized. However, the Highland Hospital CEO's ideas for providing health care in the brave new world of Obamacare is a good read. (Health Leaders Media, Nov. 30, 2012).

Slap the word "reusable" on a plastic bag and its legal under Alameda County's new environmental ordinance, says the Grist's Susie Cagle. (Grist, Jan. 18).

Friday, January 18, 2013

Guillen Crashes The Bonta Assembly Dems Caucus Slate

DEMOCRATS | The 12-person Democratic Party convention delegation from the 18th Assembly District was envisioned to be a group solely under the imprimatur of Assemblyman Rob Bonta. In fact, 11 of the 12 men and women selected last Sunday in Alameda are so-called “Bontanistas,” as some of his island detractors have come to call thm, but it’s the lone hold out that makes things interesting.

Abel Guillen, Bonta’s opponent in the most recent 18th Assembly District race finished fourth among the men. Guillen’s crashing of the District’s party delegation to the April 12-14 Democratic Party convention in Sacramento comes on the heels of recent chatter in Oakland circles he is telling supporters he is contemplating a rematch with Bonta in 2014. Bonta narrowly won the intra-party race last November, but Guillen’s inherent strength in Oakland and whispers of whether he is actually the true progressive and not Bonta, still makes him viable.

In the meantime, it is clear Bonta is making moves to fortify his liberal credentials in a area where even the slightest shades of blue can foster strong debate normally reserved for discussions between Democrats and Republicans. A tweet sent out by Guillen to his followers Jan. 3 urged an increase in the minimum wage from $8 to $10-an-hour also hinted he intends to continue his campaign for the assembly in some form or another in the near-term.

The importance of this newest slate of delegate was not lost on the 15th District’s Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, who spoke at Sunday’s gathering of Democrats, even though the group is not part of her current constituency, but it could be in the years to come. Redistricting cobbled together state Sens. Loni Hancock and Ellen Corbett’s districts, meaning in 2016, Skinner’s potential senate district will overlap many of same voters Bonta now represents in Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro. Sandre Swanson, however, may have something to say about this after nearly challenging Hancock last year before relenting.

It’s a deft political move by Skinner to further ingratiate herself with the 18th Assembly delegation now in hopes of winning their backing later. The Skinner-Bonta relationship has already blossomed on other fronts, too. Bonta co-sponsored Skinner’s recent high-profile bill regulating ammunition sales in the state and the two are hosting an open house next week. As one Democrat told The Citizen last Sunday, it’s not a bad partnership. Bonta gets Skinner’s progressive cred and she gets the support of his caucus slate.

Following a high turnout of 484 voters last Sunday in Alameda, here is the 18th Assembly delegation by gender and order of finish: (Women) Brendalynn Goodall, Elizabeth Ortega, Lynette Gailord, Lena Tam, Malia Vella, Meriam Reynosa. (Men) Shon Buford, Sean Sullivan, DJ Leonardo, Abel Guillen, Keith Gibbs, Doug Jones.

In Skinner’s 15th Assembly District: Janet Abelson, Wendy Bloom, Margaret Hanlon-Gradie, Ces Rosales, Cora Word, Charles Davidson, Nicky Gonzalez Yuen, Jael Myrick Gabriel Quinto, Dan Rush, Igor Tregub.

Assemblyman Bill Quirk’s 20th District delegation features two of his opponents from last year, Dr. Jennifer Ong and Sarabjit Cheema. Quirk outlasted Ong last November by just 917 votes, while Cheema was a primary opponent who later endorsed Quirk for the assembly. On the male side, Hayward’s Peter Bufete finally won an election. After an unfortunate 2012 when Bufete suffered defeat in June in the Hayward City Council race followed by a last-place finish for the school board in November, the young up-and-comer, however, apparently is not done with politics.

Here are the results in the 20th Assembly District: (Women) Sarabjit Cheema, Jennifer Ong, Harpreet Kaur, Aisha Wahab, Michelle Thomas, Leti Salinas. (Men) Gary Singh, Rocky Fernandez, Rick Trullinger, Vishal Trevedi, Stan Smith, Peter Bufete.

Shane Bond contributed to the article.

Health Care CEO Flirts With Another Job While Steering Defunct San Leandro Deal

ACMC CEO Wright Lassiter
HEALTH CARE NOTES | Just as Alameda County Medical Center CEO Wright Lassiter was making the rounds in an attempt to cajole three local government bodies to subsidize his acquisition of San Leandro Hospital, he was also planning to jump ship. Lassiter told a trade Web site covering the health care industry he applied for a position in Dallas, but did not seek the job, he said.

"That was particularly difficult because I'm not unhappy and I'm not looking [for a job]," Lassiter told Health Leaders Media. "My board chair knew about it, but I'm still not talking broadly about it. The fact is, it does create some instability and the last thing I'd like is to create that. I'm haven't been comfortable sharing about it, but I have talked openly with medical staff and leadership team."

Lassiter is a Dallas native, who previously worked for the same entity he has applied to, Parkland Health & Hospital System. Although the article speculates a decision on the job could be made in December, a county source says Lassiter’s future at ACMC is, today, still in doubt.

In the lengthy profile of Lassiter and his work and vision for ACMC, he notes interest in San Leandro Hospital rests solely on transforming it into an acute rehabilitation facility and shutting down its emergency room. The timing corroborates letters sent by Sutter Health to Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan and San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy that the proposed “hybrid model” for San Leandro Hospital to be subsidized by the city, county and Eden Township Healthcare District was dead on the vine earlier in the month. The correspondence revealed ACMC’s interest in the hospital soured when Sutter offered new financial information stating the facility needed a subsidy 3-4 times larger than previously speculated.

However, news of Lassiter’s possible departure during a time when ACMC is moving to expand comes as a surprise to some in the county, but also raises questions over how forthright Lassiter’s comments to the various boards and council he sought to fund his enterprise at San Leandro Hospital actually were, especially since the plan involved a proposed three year window to test if the subsidy would indeed by successful going forward. It's not clear whether members of the three entities were aware of Lassiter's flirtation for another job at the same time in late October he was passing the hat at cassh-strapped boards for a $3 million outlay.

PAY YOUR BILLS The Eden Township Healthcare District is apparently getting the silent treatment from the new operator of St. Rose Hospital, Alecto Healthcare. You may recall the District gave St. Rose and its former management team a short-term emergency $3 million loan in August 2011 to cover its payroll. St. Rose immediately had trouble making its monthly payments and in December 2011 the District sent a notice of default. A deal was struck, but St. Rose still owes the District $1.1 million and St. Rose’s new operator does not want to pay back the loan.

However, the transfer of St. Rose to Alecto is still up in the air. The state attorney general must approve the deal and Alecto’s proposal, which excludes payment of the District’s loan, could muddle the deal. On Jan. 4, lawyers for the District sent a notice of default to Alecto for payment of the $1.1 million plus over $30,000 in unpaid interest and legal fees.

“The District was distressed to learn that despite its long and determined effort to assist St. Rose over the past two years, and despite its conceptual support of the Alecto acquisition and extension of the loan, St. Rose and Alecto have apparently opted to avoid the debt and District’s security by transferring the District’s collateral with no intent to pay the debt,” the District wrote. It also says Alecto misled the District into believing it would repay the loan after acquiring the hospital.

At the health care district’s monthly meeting last Wednesday, its elected Board of Directors made no official move regarding the issue with Alecto and St. Rose, said its chair, Carole Rogers.

Assemblymember Bonta and Speaker Pérez to Investigate CalPERS Additional Pay for Managers

ASSEMBLY |Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and local Assembly member Rob Bonta released a joint press release Thursday detailing their concern over CalPERS officials receiving additional wages that both Bonta and Pérez said are potentially outside of state personnel policy.

It was recently reported that CalPERS officials who were not eligible for overtime pay were receiving it through additional appointments. CalPERS officials have called the practice common place in other state departments and that they resorted to it while they dealt with a crushing workload to launch a new computer system. But some experts say that this practice may skirt federal law.

This practice reportedly started two years ago when the new computer system was first being implemented and is expected to continue until July.

Bonta and Pérez called the additional pay “disturbing” and said that “we need to look at a better way of handling the extra work.”

“During a time when many Californians are out of work and many state workers have been required to take furloughs, it is disturbing to learn that some CalPERS managers were paid additional wages potentially outside of state personnel policy. While we understand the urgency involving the delivery of CalPERS’ new computer system, we need to look at a better way of handling the extra work. The Assembly Committee on Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security will be looking further into this matter.”

Bonta chairs the Assembly committee on Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security who will be looking into this matter.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bonta Introduces First Two Assembly Bills, Both Focus On Education

ASSEMBLY |Assemblymember Rob Bonta introduced his first two bills last week, AB 59 and AB 123, with the former focusing on ensuring that school districts assess parcel taxes in accordance with uniform property classifications and the latter on Filipino's role in the farm labor movement.

AB 59 bill clarifies law that already exists by stating that school districts are “allowed to assess parcel taxes in accordance with rational classifications among taxpayers or types of property within a district, as long as the taxes are applied to uniformly within those classifications.”

“While Proposition 30 has temporarily slowed our state’s financial bleeding, local school districts are still suffering from years of cuts, and we must ensure all opportunities are available to them. Our state and our school districts are not in a position to wait,” said Bonta in a press release.

Bonta says this measure is the first of more to come that help the fight for schools to be funded and ensure that “every option is available to them (schools) to educate the children of California.”

Bonta's second bill, AB 123, pushes for Filipino American history in public schools concerning a “rich farm worker history with the contributions of the Filipinos and the Filipino American community.” Bonta says that despite Filipinos being the second largest Asian community in California their contribution to the farm labor movement is still largely untold.

“The names and historical significance of vastly influential leaders in the farm labor movement - such as Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz - are unknown to the general public. California residents need to learn about the pioneering efforts of Filipino farm laborers and leaders in instigating the 1965-1970 Delano Grape Strike, which helped launch the American farm labor movement,” said Bonta in a press release. The bill, he says, will help students gain a more complete understanding of the farm labor movement.

Bonta's push for Filipino recognition comes off the heels of a racist letter that claimed to be an official state document directed at the Filipino American community in American Canyon, Calif. Bonta deplored this letter calling it out right racist and that there is still a lot of work to be done to deal with racism.

Bonta has only been in office for a few weeks but has thrown himself out in the spotlight by co-sponsoring a gun control bill with Assemblymember Nancy Skinner and Bonta has not wasted time since then with two bills now poised to be discussed in the assembly.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hayward School Board To Discuss School Safety In Wake Of Sandy Hook Shooting

HAYWARD SCHOOL BOARD |The Hayward School Board members will discuss public safety on school campuses at a later meeting after board members expressed concern about the Sandy Hook shooting last month. The board meeting on Wednesday night was the first time the new board was meeting after the departure of Jesus Armas and Maribel Heredia.

Lisa Brunner was the first to express remorse for the 26 children and adults shot and killed in Newtown, Conn. and advocated for a zero tolerance policy to be implemented in the school district. Although she asked for it to be added to the agenda that could not be done at such short notice. “We hear you Ms. Brunner and I will refer it to staff,” said Board President William McGee.

The item concerning public safety will likely be up for discussion at the next board meeting. Zero tolerance though, according to board member Luis Reynoso, is already implemented in schools. If someone is found with a gun they are expelled so Brunner’s request for zero tolerance is vague, he said.

But Reynoso advocated for a position that has been a common point by the mainstream Republican Party concerning guns. He said armed guards may be important in dealing with potential threats. “We have a guard in this room right now but he’s not armed,” said Reynoso, while hypothetically stating a violent person could enact carnage at the meeting that may not be stopped because of a lack of armed guards. He also added that there are contracted security officers on campuses that are armed but that district should look if that is enough or if other measures need to be implemented to ensure safety.

McGee added that the public safety policies have not been changed in 1991 and that they are long overdue for review and adjustment. Board member, Annette Walker, also agreed for a review of public safety but strangely, board member John Taylor, an ex-cop, did not comment on public safety. Although Taylor did advocate often for public safety on campuses during his campaign for the school board.

Freshman Assemblyman Bill Quirk Still Learning the Ropes in Sacramento

ASSEMBLY | Assemblyman Bill Quirk has been relatively quiet in his first few months as a legislator, but in an interview last Sunday, he admits having some initial difficulties understanding how Sacramento works.

There had been some talk among Democratic insiders questioning whether Quirk had a post-election plan going forward. Quirk, a former two-term Hayward councilman, in all honesty, admits he is stilling learning the ropes. “I know a lot more about what goes on in Sacramento than most people,” Quirk said with reassurance. “But what you realize when you get up there is how little you know.”

Quirk doesn’t have any bills planned and has said that some things he wanted to do have already been done in the Legislature. He offered no specifics, nor was he able to even give a vague description of what a bill he would propose would look like. Quirk reiterated that only until he has a better grip of how things work in the Assembly will he then propose legislation.

“Before I make good law I just have to learn a lot more and the politics are important, knowing who to talk to, but also just the details. So I do have ideas but turns out a lot of other people have worked on them so I’m finding out what’s been done and there is just so much you don’t learn unless you are involved,” said Quirk.

Quirk’s expertise largely deals in energy and climate from his years spent working for NASA and at the Lawrence Livermore Lab. Quirk had contributed to the building of the very first global model of the atmosphere and at the Livermore Lab worked on the re-use of plutonium parts which Quirk says helped shut down the Rocky Flats nuclear facility. Quirk also worked on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty signed in 1996.

Thus far Quirk has only landed one seat that tailors to his strengths on the Utilities and Commerce Committee and as far as his other committee assignments; public safety, agriculture, appropriations and rules committee, none seem to accentuate his expertise in energy.

All About Bratton As Oakland Public Safety Committee Recommends Police Consultant

Police consultant Bob Wasserman and Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan Jan. 15 in Oakland. PHOTO/Shane Bond
OAKLAND | The City Council may be willing to shell out money for a high-priced consultant to fix its crime problem, but it may not be so keen about law enforcement star William Bratton being part of the deal.

The public safety committee unanimously recommended the council approve the $250,000 contract with Bob Wasserman the city's police consultant, but attached a caveat reserving the right to compose the members of the consulting team. The full council will hear the proposal at its next meeting, Jan. 22.

William Bratton
Although Bratton was nowhere to be seen Tuesday night, his name and reputation was on the lips of nearly everyone. After nearly five hours of public testimony focused on his role in reducing crime in Los Angeles and New York City as chief of police over the past three decades, a vast majority of speakers narrowed the conversation to alternative views of his stewardship, primarily the controversial use of “stop and frisk” to combat crime. The tactic presents great concern for many Oakland groups who fear, amid the city’s poor history of police brutality, it is not a good fit for a strategy some believes unfairly targets minorities and the youth and enflames mistrust among the citizenry and cops.

“Stop and frisk doesn’t work,” said Dan Siegel, a former legal advisor to Mayor Jean Quan. “Look at New York City. Curfews don’t work. Look at Oakland. He’s the wrong guy for Oakland. It’s bad idea to ask for his advice, but worse to give $250,000.”

While Councilmember Libby Schaaf repeatedly noted the issue of “stop and frisk” was not on Tuesday’s agenda, Bratton’s appearance on a local newscast aired Monday night where he lauded the controversial police tactic, while portraying its implementation as akin to using chemotherapy on a cancer patient, made him and comments an open target for many public speakers.

Tuesday’s meeting was also the public’s first glimpse of three new councilmember’s, Noel Gallo, Dan Kalb and Lynette Gibson McElhaney, who were elected last November and, all of which, confronted the notoriously raucous council audience with surprising poise, despite numerous interruptions, the shouting down of the police chief and, comically, a spate of caterwauling from the gallery drowning out the words of proponents of the consultant’s contract.

Protesters at Oakland City Hall before
Tuesday's Public Safety Committee
meeting. PHOTO/Shane Bond
It was McElhaney, however, who took the first step in questioning the inclusion of Bratton in Oakland’s plan to revamp its downtrodden police force. “I wonder if his reputation is not so toxic that he cannot perform?” she said. At that point, McElhaney said would back holding the item in committee. Earlier, McElhaney noted other recent investigations into the police department’s conduct and pointedly asked Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan, “How many recommendations, as chief, can you take?”

Councilmember Kalb also registered skepticism over the contract, specifically tinged with the shadow of “stop and frisk.” He initially offered an alternative motion to move the contract to the full council, but excluding a recommendation from the committee. “I don’t care if it’s Bratton, my mother,” said Kalb, “if it involves stop and frisk, I’m not going for it.” However, there was some uncertainty expressed by the assistant city attorney whether the committee could make such a recommendation under the council’s rules.

Schaaf, seeing the possibility of the item being voted down by a 2-2 tie (Gallo has long supported proactive law enforcement measures in the past) attempted to persuade her colleagues and urged them not to be distracting by “stop and frisk.” “This is our moment,” she said, while adding, “our chief has asked us to bring in these extraordinary experts.”

Gallo, aside from repeated threats to have hecklers ejected or arrested as the chair of the committee, interestingly did not pose a question Tuesday night, nor did he make any public comments.

When asked by a speaker whether any of the council members had read the actually contract proposed to the committee, Gallo and McElhaney admitted they had not while Schaaf held a loft a copy of the document, but did not say whether she had actually read it.

Jordan told the packed council chambers, he was the first to approach police consultant Bob Wasserman and his firm following a recommendation to Jordan from the chief of police in Cincinnati. Jordan also knows Wasserman from previous work done for the city surrounding community policing, he said.

After queries by Kalb and McElhaney over the need of Bratton as part of the consulting team, Wasserman said, “I think he would be an important addition to the team.” He added Bratton’s inclusion in the proposal had nothing to do with the $250,000 price tag, but was a figure offered by City Administrator Deanna Santana.

Wasserman added that Bratton is relatively new to consulting and his primarily function would revolve solely around the implementation of the team’s findings over the proposed three month time window it will need to present the city with a report. A citizen’s advisory committee would likely be formed, Wasserman said, before any ideas are moved forward. “Nothing will be implemented that does not fit the Oakland environment,” he said.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Reid-Schaaf Proposal To Add More Cops Easily Passes Oakland Council Committee

OAKLAND | A package of three proposals to quickly bulk up the number of police officers on the streets of Oakland breezed though the finance and management committee Tuesday afternoon and will come before the full council in coming weeks.

The law enforcement ordinances offered by Councilmembers Libby Schaaf and Larry Reid would quickly add up to 21 non-civilian employees to aid its depleted crime lab and set up a police academy that will eventually add up to 40 officers to the police department’s dwindling force by next year. The council had previously approved the police academy, but Tuesday's plan moves to expedite it to this June.

More controversially, a third portion of the proposal would immediately infuse the force with 10 Alameda County deputy sheriffs and a sergeant for a 90-day crime suppression plan at a cost of $265,000. The expenditure would be taken out of the city’s general fund and includes a clause for reauthorizing another 90 days, bringing the total to $530,000.

“I think we know Oakland has had a horrific week,” said Schaaf, alluding to a spate of murders over the past weekend. “It is clear we need to put our money where our mouth is at.”

None of the committee members, also including Council President Pat Kernighan and Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan registered any opposition to the proposal; neither did the public. Councilmember Desley Brooks was absent.

Kernighan and Schaaf, however, were most vocal in supporting Oakalnd Police Chief Howard Jordan, while emphasizing the proposals before them Tuesday were not long-term solutions, but priorities moving in the right direction. “I’m very big on the City Council letting the chief be the chief,” said Kernighan. She also offered addition support for hiring even more cops in the future. “Today is just the beginning of the discussion.”

Added Kaplan: “We need more officers on the streets right now. This action is urgent, important and in keeping with the data we have about what works.”

While none of the council members questioned Jordan’s request for short-term help from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office for 10 officers, he nonetheless spoke to some of the criticism from community leaders and his own police officers’ union. “This is road map to getting more officers on the street,” Jordan said Tuesday. “This is a cry that I made for help to the governor.” Jordan also said outsourcing to the county “is not unusually for the city.” Mutual aid was provided by county sheriffs and neighboring cities on numerous occasions, as recently as 2011, during the Occupy Oakland protests.

Jordan attempted to quell some concerns over the sheriff’s department role in fighting crime alongside Oakland police officers. “They are not here to take over the department,” Jordan said. “They are here at my request to help us.” OPD would have primarily jurisdiction, said Jordan. He characterized the sheriffs deputies as a “supplemental resource” with all intelligence fed to them by officers at OPD. The 10 added officers would be utilized twice a week for the 90-day action and used on the active days and hours of the week, he said.

The scene later Tuesday evening for the public safety committee set for 5:30 will likely be far more contentious. A proposed $250,000 consulting contract for William Bratton, the former police chief for Los Angeles and New York City will be discussed. While some experts laud Bratton for his innovative tactics for lowering crime, others, especially in Oakland, have voiced concern over the tactic known as “stop and frisk.”

The strategy has come under fire in New York by critics who say it infringes on civil rights and disproportionately targets minorities and youths. Acknowledging the looming fight later today, Kernighan, who called it “an interesting debate,” urged those supportive of law enforcement to voice their support amid the likely torrents of opposition tonight. “We are going to see people that don’t think police are part of the solution,” she said. “We need to build the voices of support. They are out there. They send us emails, but they don’t want to show up at council meetings.”

Salwan Appointed To Fremont City Council; Fills Out Mayor Harrison’s Term

Dr. Raj Salwan
FREMONT | For the third time in two years, the Fremont City Council has appointed a new member to its brethren. The five-member council chose local Democratic stalwart Raj Salwan Monday night to serve the remaining two years of newly-elected Mayor Bill Harrison’s council seat.

Salwan, a Fremont planning commissioner and chair of the Tri Cities Democratic Forum, beat out a strong field of candidates with notable political experience that included David Bonaccorsi, Yogi Chugh and John Dutra, the son of the former assemblyman of the same name.

Monday’s appointment follows unforeseen changes in the councils makeup—some positive, some sad. In 2011, Dominic Dutra, another of the Dutra brood, was appointed to fill out Bob Wieckowski’s term when he was elected to the then-20th Assembly seat (redistricted as the 25th).

Gus Morrsion was tabbed as a placeholder in early 2012 to serve the remaining 10 months of Mayor Bob Wasserman term, who passed away the previous December. Harrison beat fellow Councilmember Anu Natarajan and Steven Cho in the mayoral race last November.

During the past November elections, it was Salwan’s direct and blunt criticism of Mary Hayashi that led the Tri Cities Democrats to admonish her run for Alameda County supervisor and signaled to some the once-feared assemblywoman had lost her grip on the local party faithful.

The addition of Salwan also continues Fremont’s recent tradition of having one of the most diverse councils in the East Bay and he becomes the second member of the city’s burgeoning Indo American community to this council. In addition to Indo Americans Salwan and Natarajan, the council also consists of Suzanne Lee Chan, Vinnie Bacon and Mayor Harrison. However, it was Natarajan, who registered the lone dissenting vote against Salwan Monday night.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Inside The Collapse Of The Latest Proposal To Save San Leandro Hospital

HEALTH CARE | Even as the public was led to believe a three-pronged plan to keep San Leandro Hospital open as a acute care general facility with a 24-hour emergency room had great potential, letters between Sutter Health, the Alameda County Medical Center, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan and San Leandro’s mayor show the deal has been off the table since late November, at the earliest. The correspondence obtained this week by The Citizen also show local leaders in the dark and bereft of time and ideas over the nearly four-year long fight to keep Sutter from closing the facility and reconfiguring it into an acute rehabilitation specialty hospital.

It is an open secret Sutter is not on very good speaking terms with either the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, specifically Supervisor Chan, its health services agency, nor their rival at the Eden Township Healthcare District, Carole Rogers, the chair of the elected Board of Directors. But, according to a letter dated, Dec. 20, 2012, Chan and San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy met with Sutter’s legal counsel sometime during last month. On the table for discussion that day was ACMC’s plan to cobble together three, $3 million subsidies from the county, city of San Leandro and healthcare district to help fund current operations at the hospital for, at least, three years. Sutter, however, told Chan and Cassidy, it had never received such a proposal despite ACMC’s CEO Wright Lassiter publicly touting the plan all over the county. Each entity officially approved the subsidy with the healthcare district pledging half of its revenue over the next two years, or, around $1.25 million.

“It is disappointing that ACMC has publicly stated in hearings that its proposal to Sutter Health was to maintain SLH as an acute care facility,” Sutter’s legal counsel wrote Dec. 20. “Sutter Health has received no such proposal from ACMC, and we were surprised to learn that you were not aware of that fact.”

Chan believes the letter was intended to undermine ACMC's efforts. “The main thing they’re looking for is a scapegoat,” she said Wednesday. “They’ve already stated they’re not looking for someone to run the hospital.”

Later, Sutter notes a letter, dated Nov. 7, 2012, where ACMC says the subsidies, only approved a week earlier, were “insufficient” and rejected by ACMC as “economically untenable.” The Sutter letter then quotes ACMC as saying; it “was no longer pursuing the option of providing ongoing acute care services.” The only deal offered to ACMC, according to Sutter, was the option to lease the hospital as an acute rehab center—long Sutter’s desired plan and, in some ways, the county’s original plan—but, not the will of the community, which has clearly urged officials to maintain San Leandro Hospital’s emergency room.

Chan’s contention that the true aim of Sutter’s Dec. 20 to them was to undercut ACMC may hold water. In a subsequent letter to Chan and Cassidy, dated Jan. 7, from Lassiter; he references an exclusive non-disclosure agreement between ACMC and Sutter, which limits what he can reveal to them. However, much of the information withheld is contained in the Sutter letter sent two weeks earlier to Chan and Cassidy.

In the latest Lassiter letter, he is under the impression information of the collapsed hospital deal is new to Chan and Cassidy. “I regret to inform you that the negotiations between ACMC and Sutter have stalled, and at present, I am not hopeful that any agreement will be reached whereby ACMC would either operate SLH as a general acute,” wrote Lassiter.

Later, Lassiter adds Sutter, in effect, moved the goalposts on ACMC after it had procured the subsidies it believed would keep the hospital running under its auspices. However, Lassiter writes new financial information provided by Sutter on Dec. 2, 2012 to ACMC showed the hospital performance is, according to Lassiter, “significantly more unfavorable (by several factors) than had been previously disclosed.” He adds, the new estimates now call for a subsidy 3-4 times larger than prior estimates—outlays likely far too large for any of the willing county investors to cough up.

In the absence of deal, Lassiter says ACMC will return to emphasizing acute rehab, the proposed plan from the start and the deal Sutter has discussed since winning title to the hospital in early 2012 following a long legal fight with the Eden Township Healthcare District. “ACMC’s negotiations with Sutter focused in this direction throughout the balance of 2012,” Lassiter writes. But, those discussions only included Sutter entering a long-term lease for the hospital as an acute rehab center, according to Lassiter. However, since ACMC’s estimate of an initial investment of $25-$30 million in upgrades to be profitable, they believe this sort of expenditure necessitated more control of the asset than afforded to a lessee. Negotiations broke down, wrote Lassiter, when Sutter refused to consider any arrangement giving control of the asset to ACMC.

Chan said she never hopeful about the deal to begin with, but viewed it as the only possible deal on the table. “My viewpoint is Sutter has rejected every offer—viable or not,” but, added, Sutter, at least, was willing to talk to ACMC. “There was never any indication Sutter would go along,” said Chan. “I believe it’s a win-win for all, but all they talk about is losing money at San Leandro Hospital.”

Chan also admitted the somewhat surprising call in December for the Eden Township Healthcare District to pay more into the subsidy pot or risk dissolution was solely an attempt to salvage the proposed plan quickly falling apart and assuage some concern by the San Leandro City Council that the District was not paying their equal share of the future burden to run the hospital. District officials were clearly caught flat-footed by the threat and reacted harshly.

“The burden is on Sutter,” said Chan, who denied Sutter has the unfettered ability to do whatever they please with San Leandro Hospital. “They have turned down every option for the hospital and the responsibility is on them if they care if there is an ER in that area.” In the meantime, Chan says various efforts in Sacramento to look into Sutter’s non-profit status and its desire to become a HMO under the Affordable Care Act, will continue. Last Tuesday, Chan pulled an agenda item off consent dealing with the Board of Supervisors reauthorizing a 3-year, $6 million subsidy for trauma services at Sutter’s rebuilt Eden Hospital in Castro Valley. “I want to take a look at it. I want to see if the county should be doing this because their action in that part of the county is unconscionable.”