Bonta's Fundraising Drive | Nobody Wants To Run For Mayor In San Leandro | Swalwell OK With His EthicsCHAPTER 7 | In the fall of 2012, San Leandro Councilmember Jim Prola was gearing up for a likely winning re-election campaign against a relatively unknown and unremarkable member of the city's school board when he received a phone call from Bay Area News Group columnist and editorial writer Daniel Borenstein. The paper was in the midst of interviewing City Council candidates in San Leandro and, Prola, one of the most consistently liberal council members in the East Bay, was missing. In addition, Prola is also one of the busiest public officials in the region and often the city’s sole representative at events across the East Bay. In fact, Prola was at one such event when Borenstein called again and left a nasty message. However, Prola is one of the few elected officials who is wise to Borenstein’s tricks and right wing editorial slants and after playing phone tag throughout the afternoon, the councilman decided to blow off the Bay Area News Group editorial board consisting of one—Borenstein. Days later, BANG endorsed Prola’s opponent and two other San Leandro council candidates who also stoked populist anger towards city employee pensions. The paper noted “Prola couldn't find the time in his busy schedule.” All three endorsed candidates were defeated in November. Prola’s calculation the BANG editorial board is merely a one-trick pony that bases its backing solely upon whether a candidate will pledge to reform city employee pensions is a move other liberal candidates should follow in the coming weeks. You don’t need their endorsement and in fact there is evidence their right wing bias is so out of whack with the liberal Bay Area that no matter how well they make the argument, lefty voters will simply turn the page to the comics section, assuming they actually read the increasingly irrelevant paper.
Daniel Borenstein, above, has only
one trick--pension reform.
Further south in the 20th Assembly District, Borenstein backed Bill Quirk primarily on the Hayward’s City Council’s stern position versus its city employees. “We opt for Quirk in part because of the more effective leadership he and his city have shown controlling employee benefit costs.” In the city’s council race, Borenstein again based his endorsement only on pension reform and ridiculed the candidate up for re-election, Francisco Zermeno, for not telling him what he wanted to hear when it came to pensions. “While each of the four candidates we endorse disagrees with us on at least one of those issues, they each demonstrate solid analytical skills. And that's what we're looking for. It's also one reason we did not endorse Francisco Zermeno's re-election. His comments indicated he was unwilling to recognize the need for more painful cuts that will be necessary to keep the city solvent.”
Similar to the Young endorsement, there were other dubious selections made by BANG without any pertinent information outside of pensions. In the same Hayward City Council race, Borenstein gave glowing praise to Greg Jones, a former Hayward city manager, for his superior budget acumen. “That's why we were particularly impressed by the financial expertise Jones would bring to the City Council,” said the editorial. “It would be refreshing to see elected leaders who understand the intricacies of budgets and can navigate the complexities of public employee retirement benefits.” Jones, you see, is a conservative, who routinely hides behind the banner of “no party preference.” It’s not the only thing Jones was hiding at the time.
The editorial noted Jones is married to Anna May, a former Hayward council member and that's where the problems began. If Borenstein, a reputed defender of government transparency, had a functioning reporter on the scene, he would have been outraged that the pension buster he was endorsing actually circumvented sunshine laws in Hayward when he entered the extramarital affair with May and neglected to tell the City Council. In the meantime, Jones and May gallivanted around town and even attended closed session meetings together while hiding their secret romance. Jones came close to termination, according to some former council members, when the council and staff confronted Jones. He later resigned.
These are the perils voters face when paying mind to endorsements from the Bay Area News Group, no matter how you see the city employee pension debate, it’s only a very small piece in a set of often complicated questions facing each city. Yet, Borenstein never focuses on any issue but pensions. Why? Because the Bay Area News Group is paying dearly for its mass layoffs of years past and low morale. The resulting brain drain has left an enormous gaps in its institutional knowledge when it comes to East Bay government and politics. In short, Borenstein relies on the pension issue because it’s the only thing he knows more about than the candidates he’s interviewing. Furthermore, if you’re a candidate unwilling to tell Borenstein you'll stick it to city employees, you should just stay home. You won’t win with him, but you will likely win come Election Day.
|Asm. Rob Bonta|
Hayward council candidate
Sara Lamnin may have the union's
strong backing this June.
|Rep. Eric Swalwell|