Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Final Word On 2013: Too Many East Bay Politicians Failed Us

2013 YEAR-IN-REVIEW | Boy, was it a boring night. After hundreds of meetings over the past few years, the Bay Area's housing and transportation leaders were poised to approve Plan Bay Area, a far-reaching 30-year plan that would prepare the region for likely changes in where its residents live and how they live in an age of greater environmental awareness. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, like many of us at the Marriott on Broadway, couldn’t take the immense rehashing of conservative and Tea Party rants. Some of the public officials charged with tweaking and honing the plan could have conceivably heard these infrequently entertaining diatribes dozens of times over the past year. Throughout the night, I had wandered around the vast hall chatting it up and searching for unrelated political scoops. By 11 p.m. I had settled in the second row, my mind wandering when a Alameda County staff member nudged me and nodded in the general direction of Quan. He had just received a humorous text from a public official seated across from the mayor poking fun at her quiet visit to dreamland. Quan wasn’t just resting her eyes, she was gone. Her head periodically dropped and rose up over and over. For 15 minutes this continued as we giggled. I had to snap a picture of the mayor dozing off, right? I did and immediately tweeted it to a legion of Oakland Twitter followers undoubtedly joyously mocking over their leader’s lack of attention in the public sphere.

Two thousand thirteen sort of felt like everyone in the East Bay political realm was sleeping. However, it might not actually be a knock, but only 2014 will show if the relatively quiet, uneventful past year was actually a calm, a resting before the storm. That’s the positive view, because the optics of a public official sleeping often refers to a general metaphor for inaction than the actual nodding off in the moment. What occurred in 2013, or more precisely, did not occur in city council chambers throughout the East Bay showed an alarming number of elected public officials without any knowledge of how to do their jobs. A lack of creativity is pervasive. Too often they sat like circuit court judges as they opine on others ideas rather than lawmakers. In Hayward, for instance, it is hard to locate a single issue generated by the seven-member council, instead, they consistently rubber stamped staff proposals and perfunctory city business. This is not to suggest anything nefarious occurred in Hayward, but it suggests a city teetering on decay and wallowing in inaction. Hayward wasn’t the only guilty party. San Leandro’s City Council dawdled the whole year, too however, its budget is in the black along with numerous construction projects suggesting a positive path forward and approved the city’s first medical cannabis dispensary. But San Leandro city leaders also seem incapable of understanding a council member’s role is to identify legislation to improve their city, by way of residents conveying a problem or searching it for themselves. Because if you don’t, guess what? You have nothing to hang your hat on come re-election time. Three members of the Hayward City Council will soon argue why they should be mayor next June. What will they offer voters in terms of accomplishments? Beats the shit out of me! And even as the BART Board of Directors took center stage in 2013, one of their newest members inexplicably ran off and got married the night before the first strike occurred and then vacationed during the second work stoppage. That's called dereliction of duty.

Over in Oakland, they don’t have this problem, but it sure doesn’t translate into action. The Oakland City Council has plenty of ideas for fixing the seat of Alameda County government. Youth curfews, banning “tools of violence” at protests and threatening to rid traveling circuses of the bullhook used to control (harm) elephants. These and many other proposed Oakland ordinances had their merits in 2013, but it was disillusionment that pervaded the chamber when it not only closed it eyes to some troubling proposals, but also covered its ears. Early in 2013, hundreds of residents warned the council against paying former Los Angeles and New York City police chief William Bratton $250,000 to consult the troubled Oakland PD. Hundreds screamed against Bratton’s advocacy for “Stop and Frisk,” but the council tuned them out. Later in the year, the efficacy of “Stop and Frisk” was severely rebuked by a judge. New York City elected a new mayor based in part on his abhorrence of the tactics that often unjustly targeted the poor and minorities. Bratton then jumped ship and became the NYC’s next police commissioner. However, the vitriol was just a harbinger of things to come.

In June, many of the same residents returned to voice disapproval of a citywide surveillance hub, known as the Domain Awareness Center. Again, the Oakland City Council turned a deaf ear. A conga line of residents told the council, the massive data collection center amounted to Big Brother in all places, a progressive city like Oakland. It would infringe of people’s rights, violated their privacy and would target political protesters and opponents. Law enforcement and proponents of the DAC said it would make Oakland safe. Guess what? They were wrong and the voice of the people was right. A mind-blowing piece in the East Bay Express pieced together to bureaucratic back-and-forth between contractors and the city’s staff. The public information request found no mention of the DAC’s intent to actually fight crime. However, it often mentioned using it to target political protesters. Furthermore, it highly suggested city staff was coordinating a go-around of any restrictions on the DAC the City Council may enact in early 2014. Again, another group of East Bay politicians was caught asleep on the job. But, in this instance, the Oakland City Council’s members who approved the DAC should fear how their vote will look in the near future. Like politicians who opposed gay rights and medical cannabis as the tide of popular opinion began to shift, Oakland’s leaders may be plagued by a scarlet DAC stitched to their collective chests, but it seemed like the easy way out last June. Oaklanders want public safety, give them the DAC. In just nine months time, more Americans than ever are worried about the encroachment of government eyes in their everyday lives. How will they feel in next nine months? How will they feel in the fall of 2016 when Councilmember Dan Kalb, a progressive who voted for the DAC, runs for re-election? Hope though is in the air. Two thousand fourteen is a new year, a chance for renewal, right?
Here’s the thing about Jean Quan. Back at the Marriott ballroom, as we giggled over the snarky response to my photo of her sleeping posted on Twitter, she awoke, poured herself about three full glasses of water and perked up. It may become a symbol for her chances for re-election in 2014. Maybe she wasn’t sleeping at all, but resting, plotting? Over the next six months, Quan is showing signs of not only winning next year’s election, but setting up a glorious next four years of renewal in Oakland. By next June, she could boast of saving the Raiders, have the Athletics leaning toward a gleaming new waterfront ballpark, along with hints the Warriors are staying on this side of the Bay. There’s a $1 billion Brooklyn Basin development and other investors searching for their own deals in Oakland. That’s more jobs, more tax receipts. Who knows, maybe crime continues to fall and the number of tragically shot and killed dwindles? Maybe none of those things pan out? The story of 2013, nonetheless, is this: too many public officials failed to do their jobs in 2013, including Quan, but there is still hope in the New Year. Get to work and be prepared this time. I received a new voice recorder for Christmas.

Happy New Year and thank you for reading the East Bay Citizen!

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Year In Lists: Top 5 East Bay Political News Stories

Replica of a drone sought by the Alameda 
County Sheriff in Feb. PHOTO/Shane Bond
1. Public privacy under siege>>> The potent issue of government infringement on public privacy through technology was barely on the national radar a year ago and non-existent in the Bay Area. Public officials in Oakland did not see it coming and when the citywide surveillance hub known as the Domain Awareness Center (DAC) came before a city council committee, there was little discussion. Progressive Councilmember Dan Kalb even voiced excited approval. That quickly changed. In short, thank or blame Edward Snowden for the heightened awareness of a federal government going all-in with Big Brother and a growing number of Americans joining the pushback. The Oakland City Council was in a bind, though. With public safety the city’s top problem and the lure of federal grants, the chanting, screaming and threats from some constituents could not change the council’s mind. The DAC moved forward, but not until an explosive article in the East Bay Express in December exposed a city administration seemingly rewriting the rules for the surveillance center’s operation. In fact, most of the issues constituents raged about earlier in the year came to fruition. The city would do whatever it wanted, train the camera’s eye on political protesters and undermine the previously stated use for the DAC---public safety.

WHAT IT MEANS IN '14 Public privacy, be it city cameras or domestic drones hovering over Alameda County, is not going away. In fact, it may be the vote most of the current Oakland City Council will regret later in their political careers.

Alameda County posted its best budget forecast in five years.
However, it still reflected a $80.2 million shortfall. 
2. Economy begins to pick up>>> Some view the uptick in home prices as the Devil in disguise. It is true the East Bay’s urban core is being revived by running away demand for housing after years of stagnation. The positive property tax revenue along with growing sales tax receipts also comes with gentrification. Those large numbers of people wearing San Francisco Giants caps in the East Bay may not be proud fans still celebrating its World Series championship in 2012, but displaced San Franciscans who can no longer afford to live in @TheCityByTheBay, #thelandoftechdouches. However, generally, 2013 was the year it clearly became evident the East Bay had thrown the piano off its back, known as the Great Recession. For the first time in five years, city governments across Alameda County found minuscule budget shortfall, while some were able to restock reserves nearly depleted by the long recession. Alameda County still reported $80.2 million in the red, but that figure represented the smallest shortfall since 2008-09.

WHAT IT MEANS IN '14 In terms of the bulking up the county’s safety net, things are getting better, but unemployment is still a nagging problem and soon finding an affordable home to buy or rent may become even more difficult. How the region tackles the wave of new money coming to the East Bay in an equitable fashion is an issue yet to be broached by public officials.

Gayle McLaughlin, the East Bay's 
Elizabeth Warren.
3. Richmond’s anti-foreclosure plan>>> While the traditional lairs of liberal ideology in Berkeley and Oakland dawdled, little ol’ Richmond proudly raised the progressive banner. The flapping flag slammed through the toxic earth around the Richmond refinery was also a giant populist middle-finger in protest of Wall Street’s own toxic mortgage loans and blatant robbery of the American middle class. The Richmond City Council’s plan to buy up underwater loans for the purpose of principal reduction sent shivers through Wall Street. The even more aggressive proposal to purchase some of those homes through eminent domain was even more intolerable for the Big Banks who took their own shot across the city’s bough when it found no takers for its municipal bonds. This gambit took a bit out of Richmond’s plan, but it trudged forward. Oakland, however, was spooked when the plan was merely mentioned in the abstract.

WHAT IT MEANS IN '14 Richmond’s anti-foreclosure plan may or may not ever get off the ground, but for the first time in awhile, it felt like local government was finally standing up for the little guy, instead of acting the shill for the police department or the local chamber of commerce. If Richmond is successful, others will follow and that's what the Masters of the Universe fears the most.

Jean Quan and her emissary to the Black Hole, 
Dr. Death. PHOTO/Steven Tavares
4. Oakland stadium saga>>> We started 2013 with the distinct possibility that the self-described “Home of Champions” could be totally shut out of professional sports within the next five years. The A’s were on their way to San Jose and the Warriors had already cheated with nearby San Francisco and was planning to move in with each other. And the Raiders, well, after jilting the East Bay once before, they couldn’t be trusted even though they were the only franchise publicly stated a preference for Oakland. Twelve months later and the mood is vastly different, although not yet settled. The A’s have no place to go but Oakland and have two locations to choose, one of which might also accommodate an arena for the Warriors. In addition, the entrance of two rich investors in the Coliseum City plan has greatly raised the bar for optimism, at least, for the Raiders remaining in Oakland.

WHAT IT MEANS IN '14 Once the deals are signed in 2014, how the plans are implemented with public money will take center stage. The Oakland Coliseum is still saddled with $113 million in debt from the return of the Raiders and remodeling of the stadium almost 20 years ago. Paying off the debt may require selling the Coliseum complex land. In fact, no stadium project in history has been made without taxpayers getting screwed and this one will be no different. Like Michael Jordan , you cannot stop it, but only contain it.

Khanna introducing himself to voters
earlier this year in a YouTube video.
5. Khanna’s cash>>> Ro Khanna, the candidate for the 17th Congressional District, trying to be the Eric Swalwell of 2014, has absolutely no trouble raising money. The former Obama appointee to the Commerce Department pulled in record-breaking campaign contributions for his run against fellow Democrat Rep. Mike Honda. The $1 million dollar haul earlier this year on the heels of another cool million the year before is not only astronomical for the Bay Area, but the entire state and Congress. However, an interesting thing happened in 2013. Khanna’s prodigious fundraising was attributed to his ties to Silicon Valley tech heavyweights at Google, Yahoo, Facebook and the region’s most influential venture capitalists, among others. Khanna even said earlier on his campaign would give voice in Washington to Silicon Valley’s tech class of thinkers and wealth. Then over the past few months, some people inexplicably began to hate the charms of Google, Yahoo and Facebook, along with their ungodly riches, which to some, fairly or not, came without much tangible work. Why, for instance, does the Google campus in Mountain View have so many large trash bins surrounding it? They don’t create anything composed of physical matter!

WHAT IT MEANS IN '14 This significant plot twist in an already interesting race proves a political campaign is a marathon, albeit, one where you never know where the course will take you.

2013 Year In Lists: Desley Brooks's Top 5 Stages of Grief Over Ethics Allegations

2013 YEAR-IN-REVIEW | The five stages of grief is denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Before and after a report from City Auditor Courtney Ruby alleged Councilmember Desley Brooks violated the City Charter's non-interference laws that sets a barrier between council members and city staff, the bellicose District 6 representative over the next four months exhibited symptoms of each stage.

1. Denial>>> In her first public statements, Brooks calls Ruby’s audit a “political vendetta” and demands specific evidence of her charter violations. The allegations, however, are not entirely new. A San Francisco Chronicle investigation in 2012 also questioned Brooks' involvement in the construction of a teen center in her council district.

2. Anger>>> C'mon, when is she not angry? As the hot seat was only starting to become unbearable, Brooks unleashed her fury against nearly the entire City Council chambers. During the meeting in March just 10 days before the release of the Ruby report, she lashed out against City Administrator Deanna Santana, City Attorney Barbara Parker, Mayor Jean Quan and then-Police Chief Howard Jordan. Later, she would routinely lambasts everyone on the council other than Councilmember Larry Reid.

3. Bargaining>>> “To date, no one has produced an email or other correspondence where staff advised me to do something; I refused and undertook a different course of action,” wrote Brooks in a 35-page response to the allegations. “Absent such action, there is no showing of ‘willful’ actions on my part. To the contrary, I specifically asked staff to advise us on the process and we followed their direction.”

4. Depression>>> Although it was Reid who coins the phrase, “Audit the auditor during a City Council meeting in April, Brooks agrees, but adds, “[City Auditor Courtney Ruby] has tarnished the name of myself and Mr. Reid without a shred of evidence.”

5. Acceptance>>> When it becomes clear the Oakland City Council will not censure Brooks in June, she switches gears and argues the entire council, excluding its three new members, in fact, routinely violated the City Charter's prohibition on interfering with city staff. When asked in an interview whether the statement amounted to an admission of guilt, Brooks said, “You can go and check the grand jury and see what they thought the interference was.” In fact, the report sided with the city auditor’s report and fingered Brooks as the problem.

Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 Year In Lists: Top 5 #OakMtg Vignettes

Oakland businessman Bill Adoudi addresses
the Oakland City Council in November.
PHOTO/Steven Tavares
2013 YEAR-IN-REVIEW | The atmosphere inside the Oakland City Council chambers often acts as a mirror reflecting your true beliefs toward the city. If you find the shouting and civil disobedience that often erupts either from council members or residents, the discord is a prime example of the city’s dysfunction. To civic-minded Oaklanders, the ones who willingly plunk down $28 for a simple t-shirt at Oaklandish, the ferocity of passion at the meetings also shows an electorate which deeply cares about their city and will fight for their beliefs. Step inside in the Oakland City Council chambers and witness the Top 5 sights and sounds from what Twitter followers proudly call, #OakMtg.

1. During a meeting in November on Councilmember Noel Gallo’s youth curfew ordinance, he stated many other cities also have the controversial law on their books. Immediately after finishing the sentence, a group of residents sitting high in the gallery vehemently disagreed. Chants of “bullshit!” rained down on Gallo, who paused in frustration before threatening to have the individuals thrown out of the meeting.

2. In July, as the Oakland City Council debated releasing funds for the Domain Awareness Center, a citywide surveillance center opposed by some, it become clear the data center had enough votes to go forward, the mood turned dark. When Councilmember Libby Schaaf explained her vote, a lone young woman standing in the back of the room, shouted, “I hope you die in your mansion, Libby!” Even for the raucous meeting, the statement dropped like a ton of bricks. The room momentarily went silent and Schaaf stared incredulously in the direction of the woman. Later, Schaaf noted she does not live in a mansion.

3. Just after 1 a.m., during the same DAC meeting, protesters of the proposal forcefully chanted, “Shame! Shame! Shame!” after approval of the item. As the council moved on to other business, the cries drowned out the proceedings and the imagery made it into most of the media reports for the next week.

4. “Gene Hazzard, for the record” Is meant to identify the opinionated Oakland resident heard often at the beginning of council meetings, but it also posed as a warning for public officials and a certain developer to get ready for the funk. In 2013, Hazzard continued his crusade to keep Oakland city government transparent, whether at the Oakland Army Base or anywhere else noted developer Phil Tagami is allegedly looking for a free government handout.

5. The phrase, “Security! Please escort these people out,” could be attributed to a number of Oakland council members in 2013. Council President Pat Kernighan uttered a variety of the line as did Gallo. However, it wasn’t until November that Oakland police officers followed the direction. The entire chambers was cleared of patrons for the final 10 minutes of the meeting.

2013 Year In Lists: Best/Worst Dressed East Bay Politicians

Rebecca Kaplan
1. Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland councilmember>>> Who would have ever thought the East Bay politician who made the simple vest the rage of council couture could top herself, again? Gone is the vest, for the most part, and in is the backward baseball cap. An EBC fashion consultant remarked, “Damn, she does Bieber better than Bieber!” (two-time winner)

2. Libby Schaaf, Oakland councilmember>>> Her simple, elegant look and hair in a bun look could make her a contender in the mayor’s race next year even without campaigning.

Michael Gregory
3. Michael Gregory, San Leandro councilmember>>> It’s too bad Gregory is termed out of office in 2014. It’s the second straight year the San Leandro councilmember ripped out of the pages of a L.L. Bean catalog has made the list. What can he say? He rock the sweater vest look. (two-time winner)

4. Rob Bonta, assemblymember, 18th District>>> He used to be a male model. Enough said, right? Bonta is always sharply tailored and his graying mane perfectly combed like a Filipino American Gavin Newsom says political power.

5, Eric Swalwell, congressmember, 15th District>>> He’s fit and looks Kennedy-esque in a suit and his thing with photographing his shoes upon boarding his flight to Washington suggests he has more fancy footwear than any heterosexual man should possess.

Rebecca Kaplan
1. Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland councilmember>>> WTF! A backwards baseball cap worn during public meetings? Whether a lid representing an Oakland high school, the A’s or the Raiders, wearing a cap is more than a bit inappropriate. However, nobody appears brave enough to issue dissent fort the dress code violation.

2. Nate Miley, Alameda County supervisor>>> If shoulder padded sports coats were in style, Miley would top the best dressed list. But, since it’s 2013 and not an episode of "Dynasty," circa 1983, welcome to the list. In addition, during a Board of Supervisors meeting, Miley matched a sport coat with a t-shirt emblazoned with the word, “CANNABIS.” Still not good even for a guy who routinely says he doesn’t care what you think about him.

3. Mike Katz, San Leandro school board>>> Still has the stingy, yet luxurious long hair and graying beard. The hippy psychiatrist with an office on Shattuck look still hasn’t arrived even among hippy psychiatrist with an office on Shattuck, let alone for the San Leandro school board. (two-time loser)

Al Mendall
4. Al Mendall, Hayward councilmember>>> There’s really nothing wrong with Mendall’s fashion other than he looks like he stepped off the set of “Growing Pains.” However, his chronic bad back forces him to stand during Hayward Council meetings and that inherently attracts more eyeballs toward Mendall. A feather boa—Made in Hayward—might get him on the other list. That is, unless Kaplan adopts the look before him.

5. Michael Sweeney, Hayward mayor>>> Some people just don’t look right when they dress up and comb their hair. We wouldn't want Hayward’s mayor to change his simple short-sleeve collared shirt, khakis and gray stubble, but since he announced this would be his last term in office, he gets the honor one last time. (two-time loser)

Click here for the 2012 Best/Worst Dressed List

2013 Year In Lists: Top 5 East Bay Freshmen Politicians

Rob Bonta PHOTO/Steven Tavares
1. Rob Bonta>>> The first-term assemblymember from Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro may have set the mark for how to make an immediate splash in higher office. Bonta made the jump from the Alameda City Council to the Assembly has seamless as possible. In fact, his talents for leadership may have been suppressed on the island. In Sacramento, Bonta started off as the only freshman to attain a coveted committee chairmanship and quickly became the leader of the East Bay caucus in the Assembly. Although his first-year focus on public safety and Oakland came up short, it proved valuable in lending a perception the Legisture is trying to solve the city's gun problem. He also proved to be engaging, affable and easily liked. Bigger things are coming for Bonta and his constituents.

Lynette Gibson McElhaney
2. Lynette Gibson McElhaney>>> Forget for a second McElhaney's flip-flopping on public privacy and weird statements about bullhooks at the circus. For someone with so little experience, McElhaney jumped into the mix in Oakalnd and proved a vital voice for West Oakland. She was credited with smoothing over problems with the clearing of the Oakland Army Base for development and often uncorked wonderful flurries of oratory. Clearly, she is learning on the go and making some mistakes, but the future is bright for McElhaney,

Noel Gallo PHOTO/Shane Bond
3. Noel Gallo>>> Similar, to McElhaney, Oakland's Fruitvale representative wasted no time before melding somewhat seamlessly within the current city council. Gallo is controversial to some in Oakland for his distinct patriarchal bent to towards public safety. He's Oakland stern, unforgiving Latino papa. Even if you disagree with his 100 percent support of anything law enforcement, you have to give him credit for sticking to an issue and passionately defending it. Politics is about an exchange of ideas and Gallo fills an important role. 

Richard Valle
4. Richard Valle>>> Although he is actually more of a red-shirt freshman--Valle was appointed to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in June 2012--this year was his first full session. For a region shockingly short of progressive leaders, Valle rose to the top. In 2013, he fought the Alameda County Sheriff and Supervsor Scott Haggerty in defense of undocmented immigrants, opposed domestic drones in the county and voiced disapproval of any potential plan to fund stadiums for wealthy team owners in Oakland. 

Dan Kalb
5. Dan Kalb>>> Some still believe Oakland is going down the tubes. However, it is not and the third member of the Oakland City Council's freshman class on this list proves its politics is on the way back. If only Kalb had not blindly backed the Domain Awareness Center with such delight, he may have been higher on this list. However, his progressive politics are showing signs of being deeply rooted and unwavering. Once he drops his cautiousness on issues like debarment of Goldman Sachs and Richmond's anti-foreclosure plan, he might one day lead the far left of this council.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Top 5 Larry Reid Comedy Classics

After Oakland Councilmember Larry Reid is accused of violating the City Charter in late March, a Facebook page is created in his support using his common refrain to allies, "You are my brother."
2013 YEAR-IN-REVIEW | With the highly-quotable Pete Stark in retirement, there was some fear whether another East Bay public official could ever combine comedic timing, absurdity and biting commentary into a memorable set of quotes. Enter Oakland Councilmember Larry Reid. In 2013, he referenced the Holy Spirit, charged his colleagues with racism and summoned one of Hollywood's most overused exclamations.

1. “You know what?" said Reid in late June, "I don’t know, maybe I should freaking run for mayor of this city and the more I think about it, the more and more I’m just waiting for a signal from God.”

2. “I don’t like to use racism,” Reid asserted in an animated speech in July often met with thunderous applause during a hearing to discuss censuring Councilmember Desley Brooks, “but in this institution that I’m a part of, on this council that I’m a part of, racism is alive and well."

3. “And Dan, I just want to get to know you, bruh,” said Reid during the same meeting in July as he went down the line acknowledging each of his colleagues shortcomings and personal disagreements before getting to newcomer Councilmember Dan Kalb.

4. "Show me the money!" said Reid during a Coliseum Joint Powers Authority meeting in November to approve lease extensions for the A's and Raiders. However, when it came to the proposed Coliseum City, Reid disagreed with others over whether to laud its new investor group he went all Jerry Maguire.

5. With his back ailing him and clearly not in the mood to admonish one of his colleagues, Reid exclaimed, “I could be home watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” In fact, he was serious. As he hobbled out of the council chambers, he added, "I love me some Guy [Fieri]."

Joe Tuman's Broken Window Fundraising Drive

Photo of Joe Tuman's broken car window
posted on Facebook Wednesday night.
OAKLAND | MAYOR | Over the past several days Oakland has been awash in positive news. First, came the news that the Brooklyn Basin housing development just south of Jack London Square would be fast-tracked and would include four hundred units of affordable housing. And then came the unveiling of a proposed new ballpark for the A’s at Howard Terminal on the city’s waterfront.

But Oakland mayoral candidate Joe Tuman, who is challenging Mayor Jean Quan next year, is attempting to snap everyone back to reality.

Tuman announced on social media that his car had been broken into Wednesday night. The shattered side window was the second time his car was vandalized in Oakland during the last six months, he said. The break-in occurred while Tuman’s campaign team was discussing potential public safety policies for the ramp up of the campaign next year at their office on Franklin Street, the campaign said.

However, Tuman quickly moved to turn his misfortune into a vehicle for fundraising before the crucial December 31 deadline for campaign contributions this year. In an email to supporters, Thursday, he offered testimonials from followers of his Facebook page who chimed in with their own stories of having their car windows broken in Oakland...


Best East Bay Political Quotes Of 2013

2013 YEAR-IN-REVIEW | Two thousand and thirteen was destined to fail as an eventful year. Following the tumult and sheer craziness of 2012, East Bay politicians stayed out of trouble, but the slowly improving local economy may have offered an opportunity for some to bring a bit more levity to the public meetings and their off-the-cuff comments. A greater emphasis on Oakland starting in January also brought its raucous city council meetings into greater focus. However, be it the growing struggle between increased greater safety and public privacy or the political battle lines being drawn for races next year across the East Bay, the conversations created many great quotes. Here's the 2013 edition of the annual East Bay Citizen best political quotes:

“The sheriff is saying trust us and we’re saying we don’t trust you.”
-Michael Siegel, Oakland civil rights attorney, Feb. 14, at a hearing detailing the Alameda County sheriff’s plan to purchase two domestic drones.

“He’s the wrong guy for Oakland. It’s a bad idea to ask for his advice, but worse to give him $250,000.”
-Oakland civil rights attorney Dan Siegel, Jan. 14, in opposition to a $250,000 police consulting contract for super cop Bill Bratton.

Dan Kalb
“Alright, sounds good to me.”
-Oakland Councilmember Dan Kalb, in July, during the initial discussion of the Domain Awareness Center at a Public Safety Committee meeting that featured no opposition on the topic.

“The OPD is in need of a fixin’"
-Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney, Jan. 15, during an Oakland City Council speaking to then-Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan.

“J.Quan told me she realizes I have a chip on my shoulder. Insulting, more like a broken skull and brain trauma.”
-Scott Olsen, the Iraq War veteran who was struck in the head with projectiles fired by police during a Occupy Oakland protest in 2011, tweets, Mar. 6, about a private discussion with Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.

Jean Quan
“We were screaming and shouting and not moving and clapping and we were basically telling Lew Wolff, ‘Now, tell Major League Baseball that this city and these fans don’t care. The A’s belong in Oakland.'”
-Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, recalling, Feb. 27, during her State of the City address, the scenes of adoration bestowed by A’s fans on their team the October before, following their season-ending defeat at the Coliseum.

“We have three teams, two facilities and a majority of them are saying they’re leaving. If you we’re to ask me if I we’re a betting man, I would say we can probably save two of them.”
-Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, Jan. 25, succinctly describing the situation with the region’s three professional sports franchises, the Athletics, Raiders and Warriors.

Bill Quirk
“What you realize when you get up there is how little you know.”
-Assemblymember Bill Quirk, in January, candidly describing his initial difficulties getting acquainted with the inner-workings of politics in the State Assembly.

“Bob Wieckowski? He’s 0-for-3.”
-Roman Reed, a candidate for the State Senate’s 10th District who is paralyzed, says he is running because his opponent Assembly Bob Wieckowski, who is also running for the seat, failed to pass stem cell legislation on three occasions.

“I am now pleading on behalf of the victims, myself as one, family members and I ask that you do the right thing and make this correction.”
-Nancy Skinner, during a stunning and emotional speech on the Assembly floor she reveals being sexually abused as a child while urging colleagues to extend the timeframe for adults abused as children to sue non-profit groups.

Scott Haggerty
PHOTO/Shane Bond
“Who would you f**k? Wilma Chan or Gail Steele?”
-In a lawsuit filed by Supervisor Scott Haggerty’s former chief of staff, it alleges his former boss often joked with male staff members about breasts and generally acted boorishly toward women.

“You don’t know me. You don’t know me. I probably have just as many undocumented friends as you do, because when I walk out of these chambers, you have no idea where I go. You don’t know what I do. In fact, I had several conversations with my undocumented friends yesterday and, in fact, I have a friend who is married to an undocumented woman. I see the fear they walk in everyday. You don’t know me.”
-Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, at a board meeting in April involving the federal immigration program Secure Communities, unleashes his 10-minute-long “You don’t know me” speech.

“I think Rome is burning."
-Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, in March, commenting on the state of Oakland and fueling rumors he may run for mayor.

“You will be vindicated. The war on drugs is a failure.”
-Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, in February, during a commendation for the founders of some of Oakland’s noted medical cannabis dispensaries. He later jokes the day should be celebrated with free cannabis for all, all the while, donning a t-shirt in chambers that reads, “Cannabis.”

“Are we going to start raising the Cuba flag, too? As far as I know when an entity raises a flag over a country it means they conquered it.”
-San Leandro theater owner Dan Dillman, in September, argues the City Council's plan to fly the Chinese flag over City Hall to celebrate its national day amounts to a loss of sovereignty.

“How can I say I’m for green technology and vote against a wind turbine?”
-San Leandro Councilmember Jim Prola, a noted progressive, on how he voted for a contentious single-use private wind turbine on the San Leandro shoreline over the cries of nearby homeowners.

“Don’t you want to develop our point?”
-Alameda Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, in November, kindly asking Oakland developer Phil Tagami if his intention at Alameda Point is actually for development, not leasing and management.

Michael Sweeney
“We’re at the bottom. We’re the lowest performing school in Alameda County. Take a long look at that. This is a big problem.”
-Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney, Feb. 1, at a State of the City address pointing to a chart describing its school district’s pitiful performance problems.

“Its not the kind of environment that any reasonable person would want to work in.”
-The attorney for Stan “Data” Dobbs, the former Hayward Unified School District employee who returns to become its next superintendent. However, queries by the East Bay Citizen before his appointment makes him nervous. He pulls consideration, then rethinks. He's later takes the job.

“We have drawn the line. This is the line. We’re not taking no more concessions. When our backs are against the wall, we come out swinging. This is the first part of the swing, then there’s a belly blow, then there’s a chin check, then there’s a knockout."
-Daryl Lockhart, a representative for SEIU Local 1021 at a rally in front of Hayward City Hall during the beginning of a three-day strike in August by city employees.

“We will lean on him to do progressive stuff and make him declare to be on our side.”
Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison tells East Bay Citizen during a March fundraising stop in Oakland, when asked about the iffy progressive credentials of Rep. Eric Swalwell.

“Hopefully Eric will lose, and I am doing everything I can to see that Ellen Corbett wins that primary election.”
-Pete Stark issues a challenge to Rep. Eric Swalwell, in November. Swalwell later uses the comments to rally support against State Sen. Ellen Corbett.

"Captain Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk and Dang Ding Ow,”
-KTVU anchor Tori Campbell says the words that will live in Bay Area media infamy during a July 12 newscast when she erroneously reports the names of pilots involved in the tragic Asiana Airlines plane crash at SFO.

2012 - Pete Stark. "If I we’re a lawyer--I would call that bribery, but I’m not a lawyer, so I’ll let Mr. Swalwell define what he thinks taking all this money from people he gave special zoning privileges is. Maybe, this is how he sees his role in government."
2011 - Ken Pratt. "I nominate her [Jean Quan] the queen of residential blight."
2010 - Bill Lockyer. "I'm just a volunteer."
2009 - Pete Stark. "Well, I wouldn't dignify you by peeing on your leg. It wouldn't be worth wasting the urine."

Thursday, December 19, 2013

2013 Year-In-Review, Part IV: Fate Of East Bay Pro Sports And Political Aspirations Eye A Pivotal New Year

October 2013
>>>A number of bills offered by East Bay legislators come to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk for consideration. He signs Assemblymember Nancy Skinner’s high-capacity ammunition bill, along with State Ellen Corbett’s limo safety legislation. However, Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski’s non-citizen juror bill is vetoed, as is Assemblyman Rob Bonta’s free condoms for prison inmates legislation and a bill giving the Oakland City Council power to enact its own gun control laws.

Francisco Zermeno
>>>The Hayward City Council passes an ordinance stopping small-scale food sharing groups from serving meals to the homeless and hungry in city parks. Critics and homeless advocates use the forum to highlight the city’s few housing options for the poor. Councilmember Francisco Zermeno says the city should plant fruit trees on city streets.

>>> Coliseum City’s new investment group receives a year-long extension of the exclusive negotiating agreement with the city and county. Later, Oakland city staff reports early benchmarks for the sprawling stadium project have been met. The first six months of 2014, however, will be crucial for the future of the Raiders and Athletics in Oakland.

>>>If the candidate’s campaign bank accounts are any indication, the race in the 15th Congressional District will be a cakewalk for Rep. Eric Swalwell. Campaign finance reports show him with a balance four times greater than his fellow Democratic opponent, State Sen. Ellen Corbett.

>>>A deal ending a second work stoppage at BART, this time four-days long, is reached. However, BART management will claim they made a typographical error within the new agreement. Going into 2014, the deal is still up in the air while trains continue to run.

>>>Former Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer makes a curious return in a two-part television interview with KGO-TV. Nothing new is gleaned from Lockyer other than the appearance of a feather tattoo along the hairline of her neck.

The transformation of the Oakland Army
Base begins.
>>>With Gov. Jerry Brown, Rep. Barbara Lee, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and other dignitaries in attendance, groundbreaking on the $1.2 billion Oakland Global cargo and logistics hub begins at the former army base.

>>>Wheelchair-bound, stem cell activist Roman Reed announces he will run for the open state senate seat in the 10th District. Reed, also a Fremont planning commissioner, was paralyzed in 1994 during a football game at Chabot College.

>>>The Alameda City Council decides not to award a contract to Phil Tagami for leasing and management services at Alameda Point. However, they urge him to return later and develop the space. A few weeks later, the same council, though, says yes to former State Senate Pro Tem Don Perata regarding a $90,000 consulting contract for lobbying the State Legislature.

>>>Oakland Councilmember Noel Gallo’s pet project to enact a youth curfew ordinance fails. Even the police chief sides against it since it stretches an already thin force even further. “If they're stopping a bunch of 16-year-olds out at night, I don’t think that’s a good use of their time,” says Councilmember Dan Kalb.

>>>The Alameda County Board of Supervisors approve a resolution urging President Obama to begin discussing the possibilities of reforming marijuana laws. It also calls on the administration to halt crack downs on some dispensaries in the county. The resolution is seen as a foreshadowing of a potential state ballot measure next year to legalize pot.

>>>The Coliseum Joint Powers Authority approves a two-year lease extension for the Athletics and a one-year deal for the Raiders as the Oakland stadium saga heads down an important stretch in early 2014. Councilmember Larry Reid tells the Coliseum City investors, however, to “show me the money!” Mayor Quan predicts a deal with the Raiders will be had sometime in the summer of 2014.

>>>Oakland Councilmember Libby Schaaf enters the race to unseat Mayor Jean Quan next year. Like the other two challengers in the race, Schaaf says she can do a better job of lowering crime and fostering government transparency.

>>>The seemingly never-ending saga to keep the A’s in Oakland gets a significant boost, at least, the most exciting news in years, with a report up to three investments groups have interest in building a 38,000-seat waterfront ballpark at Howard Terminal and possibly even buying the club, if it becomes available.

>>>More change coming to Oakland in 2014. City Administrator Deanna Santana becomes a finalist for the same job in Dallas and Council President Pat Kernighan announces her retirement at the end of her term next year.

>>>The race for a host of exciting political races ramp up for the 2014 midterm elections. Click here for a list of some the candidates running for office next year in the East Bay.

MONDAY, Part I: The Fight Over Public Safety Erupts Over Bratton, Drones
TUESDAY, Part II Oakland Gets Three Police Chiefs In A Week; Censure In The Air; BART Strike Rattles Bay Area
WEDNESDAY, Part III Sum Ting Wong, Indeed; Privacy Concerns Raised Over Surveillance Center

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2013 Year-In-Review, Part III: Sum Ting Wong, Indeed; Privacy Concerns Raised Over Surveillance Center

July 2013
KTVU anchor Tori Campbell
>>> The words are simply enough: "Captain Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk and Dang Ding Ow.” KTVU takes considerable heat for allowing the erroneous names of four Asiana Airlines pilots to get on the air following the tragic plane crash at SFO. Heads roll, but anchor Tori Campbell remains.

>>>Ro Khanna sets the political world afire once again when his campaign discloses over $1 million in contributions in the second quarter alone. Khanna is opposing fellow Democrat Rep. Mike Honda. It’s not even Khanna’s best showing. In 2011, he topped $1.2 million for a quarter in fundraising.

>>>Activists in Oakland get first wind of a wide-ranging surveillance and information data hub known as the Domain Awareness Center (DAC). During the Oakland City Council Public Safety Committee, the item is forwarded with no opposition. Councilmember Dan Kalb even says, “Very exciting. I assume none of these cameras go into people’s living rooms?” The fight begins...

>>>AC Transit Board of Directors unanimously censure Joel Young for violating board policies and using closed session information for personal gain. Young never utters a word in his defense throughout the proceedings.

Protesters on Broadway in Oakland following 
the Trayvon Martin verdict.
>>>Anger from the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin spills onto the streets of Oakland. Like other protests, the scene becomes violent during the late hours. Windows are broken, arrests are made and the police chief takes heat for not having his force ready for the possible Saturday verdict.

>>>After years of discussion, a 30-year housing and transportation initiative, known as Plan Bay Area, is approved by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). Conservatives and Tea Partiers voice considerable disapproval. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, though, falls asleep during the final meeting.

>>>Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks produces a 35-page rebuttal to charges levied against her by a city auditor’s report. Brooks claims she did nothing wrong and was merely following city staff’s direction. She again challenges the city auditor to release evidence of her misconduct.

>>>Alameda’s plan to place an In & Out Burger near the Webster Tube that leads to and from Oakland is met with resistance from Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley who suggests the popular burger joint will attract unsavory characters from Oakland to the island. Opponents read the comments as racist, while creating the comedic image of the Hamburglar wreaking havoc in Alameda.

>>>The Oakland Army Base has yet to be cleared of its former tenants and time is running out before the city risks losing $176 million in federal funding for the project. The property would be cleared in time, but not before Councilmember Larry Reid gets in a shot at Mayor Jean Quan for the delay. “I would have been on their butts, but I’m not the mayor.”

>>>Vowing to significantly lower crime in Oakland, Joe Tuman announces his run for mayor in 2014. “What we need in the city going forward is, and what I intend to do in my campaign for mayor, is recalibrate a new normal,” he says outside of City Hall.

>>>Amid catcalls from the audience and racially-divisive innuendo from Councilmember Larry Reid, the Oakland City Council chooses against censuring Desley Brooks. However, they contemplate censuring themselves under the theory all of them at one time violated the city’s non-interference laws. This motion does not pass.

>>>Like Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley before him, Oakland Councilmember Larry Reid contemplates running next year against Mayor Jean Quan. Reid says he's awaiting a cue from God, who later nixes the idea. It’s the last time Reid is seen in public for months. Later, it is revealed he will undergo back surgery.

>>>Just after 1 a.m., the Oakland City Council approves the second phase of the controversial Domain Awareness Center. Following the vote, the few remaining audience members chant, “Shame! Shame! Shame!” Councilmembers Libby Schaaf and Dan Kalb add amendments calling for specific policies for its use, while their colleagues, Larry Reid and Desley Brooks are absent for the meeting.

>>>Showing the power of labor unions still exist in the East Bay, Assemblymembers Rob Bonta and Bill Quirk report campaign finance reports showing nearly 90 percent of their haul came from unions and other special interests. Assemblymember Nancy Skinner is mocked for attending a junket to Cuba paid by noted Sacramento lobbyist Darius Anderson.

Quick, take a picture of me praying to Jesus.
>>>Rep. Eric Swalwell and other pro-Israel members of Congress go to the Holy land. Swalwell then posts a number of peculiar, often unwittingly hilarious photos of his trip on various social media sites. One involves playing ping-pong with Israeli children, another praying at the Wailing Wall, and one showing him on his knees bowing before Jesus.

>>>In an interview with the Oakland Tribune, Mayor Jean Quan suggests no confidence in City Administrator Deanna Santana. Despite the writing on the wall, Santana stays on, but in December, news trickles out she is among five finalists for the same job in Dallas.

>>>Without a contract since February, Hayward city employees stage a three-day strike to urge the city to reopen negotiations. A picketing worker is hit by an angry resident and a barrage of tough talk from union members commences. City workers remain on the job without a new contract.

>>>Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney announces he won’t run for re-election in 2014. A day later, Councilmember Mark Salinas declares his candidacy. A month later, Councilmember Barbara Halliday also declares. They join another colleague, Francisco Zermeno, making it three sitting members of the council running next year for mayor.

>>>Rep. Eric Swalwell considers supporting President Obama’s plan to use force in Syria. Rep. Barbara Lee issues opposition. However, for Swalwell, the idea is unpopular in his district and elsewhere. In the end, Russian President Vladimir Putin takes Swalwell and others off the hook with a more diplomatic solution.

It goes up,  instead, at the
San Leandro Marina.
>>>An international incident nearly occurs in San Leandro when a resolution to celebrate China’s national day by flying its banner over City Hall fosters division between its large Chinese American community and Tibetan activists. The motion barely passes, but the mayor uses his powers in the City Charter to overrule the decision.

>>>While Oakland is awash in debate over the encroaching surveillance state, San Leandro considers placing license plate readers in public spaces. Later, Alameda discusses adding the police-mounted cameras to the island.

>>>Nancy Skinner, during an Assembly floor speech in favor of extending the window for adults sexually abused to sue private and non-profit groups, reveals she was the victim of sexual abuse as a child.

>>>Perhaps illustrating the power of Edward Snowden’s revelation regarding the NSA, Rep. Eric Swalwell votes against allowing the government to collect your cell phone data. However, in February, before the disclosure, he voted in favor of government access to your Web site histories.

>>>Richmond attracts national attention for a proactive and creative plan to help its large number of homeowners saddled with underwater mortgages by buying the loans and offering principal reduction strategies. To the consternation of Wall Street, it also includes purchasing the homes through eminent domain. Later, Oakland would dip its toe in the same idea, but relent due to concerns over reprisals from Wall Street.

>>>Former Hayward school board President Jesus Armas, remember him? The guy who had an affair with a fellow board member? After not running for re-election in 2012, Armas is in line to become South San Francisco’s next city manager. However, the City Council gets wind of his transgressions in Hayward and reconsiders.

>>>After years of opposition, the San Leandro City Council approves permitting for one medical cannabis dispensary within its city limits.

MONDAY, Part I: The Fight Over Public Safety Erupts Over Bratton, Drones
TUESDAY, Part II Oakland Gets Three Police Chiefs In A Week; Censure In The Air; BART Strike Rattles Bay Area

Warriors Owners Interested In Buying The A's; Building Downtown Ballpark

Warriors owner Joe Lacob
OAKLAND | BALLPARK | The Oakland business leaders who are pushing the effort to build a new home for the A’s on the city’s waterfront apparently are not the deep-pocketed investors behind the plan to build a $500 million facility at Howard Terminal. It’s also clear that the cash-strapped city has no funds to contribute to the project — other than land provided by the Port of Oakland. So who is the real money behind the proposal? According to knowledgeable sources, the owners of the Golden State Warriors are part of one of at least three potential investment groups who are interested in buying the A’s and building the new ballpark in Oakland on their own.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier this week that the investor group behind the Howard Terminal ballpark proposal includes former Dreyer’s Ice Cream CEO T. Gary Rogers, Signature Development Group CEO Michael Ghielmetti, Clorox CEO Don Knauss, and former Oakland Planning Commissioner Doug Boxer. Knowledgeable sources tell us that this group is willing to partner with the current Oakland A’s ownership to build a new stadium at Howard Terminal, which just west of Jack London Square and is not far from downtown Oakland. However, A’s co-owner Lew Wolff then told the Oakland Tribune that he has no interest in the Howard Terminal proposal... (with Robert Gammon)