Friday, February 28, 2014

Mary Hayashi, Superior Court Elections, Stewart Chen: Judge for Yourself

Khanna Plays the Part | Battle Royale in Hayward | Joel Young's Judge Up For Re-Election 
CHAPTER 4 | Love her or hate her, it's difficult to get out from under the shadow of Mary Hayashi. While she has a tough race against Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski in a State Senate primary in the 10th District growing with candidates, she is not the only Hayashi on the ballot this June.

Husband Dennis Hayashi is up for re-election to the Alameda County Superior Court. You may recall Dennis Hayashi was a great benefactor from the early rise of Mary Hayashi in East Bay politics. In 2008, Mary transferred $30,000 from her assembly coffers to Dennis' campaign account. The extra cash was a loving gesture derided by many at the time. It also allowed Dennis to finally win a seat on the county bench after narrowly losing two years earlier.

Mary and Dennis Hayashi in a campaign
photo from her 2012 supervisors race.
In a weird twist, one of Dennis's colleagues is planning to run against Mary in her state senate primary. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Roy Hashimoto, recently did a "Haggerty" and became a Democrat, it was reported this week by the San Francisco Chronicle. Just another person to "judge" Mary Hayashi, right? Since she returned to public life in late 2012, Hayashi has been treated quite harshly by local Democratic leaders. What goes around comes around, seems to be the underlining ethos behind the icy stares so many Democrats give Hayashi, if they even acknowledge her in the room. I have routinely witnessed the institutional shunning as far back as the first round of candidates forums for Alameda County supervisor two years ago. Of course, nobody is going to say, "Poor, Mary," to one of the most wonderfully ruthless East Bay officials ever, but it begs to question if stealing clothing from a high-end department store is really commensurate with what she is now facing?

For those on the left, there are few potential candidates for office in the East Bay who possess a more consistent record when it comes to the progressive movement. In the past, Hayashi has attempted to argue her brush with the law is hardly the worst crime perpetrated by a member of the State Legislature. In fact, her argument has been greatly bolstered in recent weeks. State Sen. Rod Wright was convicted of a series of felonies for lying about the residency before running for the seat and is facing calls by some to resign. Of course, nothing beats State Sen. Ron Calderon, who was indicted this week for alleging taking bribes and selling the power of office for personal enrichment. Hayashi may undermined security at Neiman Marcus but there's not evidence she undermined the power of her office.
Morris Jacobson
YOUNG'S JUDGE Who really cares about judicial elections, anyway? Some think they should be done away with since there is rarely the occasion a sitting member is ever challenged. Besides, nobody knows anything about the candidates? Well, you know about Dennis Hayashi and there's another notable judge running for re-election. Judge Morris Jacobson's court was the site of one of 2012's biggest political flameouts. Jacobson was the presiding judge in AC Transit board director Joel Young's alleged domestic abuse case. Although Jacobsen later dismissed each bid for restraining orders, his earlier remarks suggested he believed Young struck his then-girlfriend in the face. "The injuries she sustained go well beyond the reasonable need to self-defend," the judge said, referring to the extensive bruising on the plaintiff's face, according to a transcript of the proceeding. "There were significant injuries on her. Well, more than necessary for a man, and I am going to take into account that it appears to me that [the plaintiff] is approximately 5-foot, 120 pounds." The much taller Young escaped the exchange that fateful March morning with merely a small scratch on his torso, which he repeatedly mentioned. Jacobson, however, was admonished by a state disciplinary committee in an unrelated incident for abuse of power around the same time as the Young case.
PLAYING THE PART This week Ro Khanna unveiled a jobs plan at a medical device company in Santa Clara that employs 250 workers. His plan includes adding computer coding to the public school curriculum, increasing participation of women in science and tech careers, linking small businesses with access to export markets and providing job training and tax credits for dislocated workers. Khanna also supports raising the federal minimum wage to $10.74, which is higher than the $10.10 figure currently being sought by the president. But back up! A jobs plan? Exactly who is the incumbent in the 17th Congressional District race and who is the challenger? However, if you want to be the congressman, you should act the part, the thinking goes. On Thursday, Khanna employed the perception of the incumbency when he called on Rep. Mike Honda to speak out against the proposed merger of telecom giants Comcast and Time Warner. And about that poll showing Honda with a double-digit lead. It means two things: Honda's support is shrinking and Khanna may want to focus a bit on neutralizing his Republican opponent Vanila Singh or risk not even advancing to the November general election.
Oakland native M.C. Hammer isn't
running for mayor, at least, we don't
think so, but it seems everyone else is.
HERE AND THERE This week it become apparent Oakland's gargantuan-sized field for mayoral candidates now require nicknames to differentiate themselves. Little-known candidates named Jason "Shake" Anderson and Charles "The Chief" Williams revealed intentions to run this November. Meanwhile, where have you gone, M.C. Hammer?...An Oakland mayoral candidate this week said this about City Auditor Courtney Ruby entering the race and her success as a government watchdog: "What exactly has she done to clean up Oakland other than write reports?"...San Leandro businessman Dan Dillman ran for the City Council two years ago. This year he's contemplating a run for mayor against incumbent Stephen Cassidy. In the meantime, Dillman, who is a self-described "treasure hunter," appeared last week in an episode of Ancient Aliens on the History Channel....Alameda Councilmember Tony Daysog is contemplating a run for Rep. George Miller's seat in the 11th Congressional District against State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier. In the meantime, Daysog's strategy is to kill him with kindness. When a report described DeSaulnier last week coming to the aid of his neighbor following a robbery, Daysog released this statement, which he previously tweeted: "“Wow! Good job, State Senator DeSaulnier!”...Retired Alameda County Superior Court judge Chester Bartalini, Jr. made an excellent legal argument here for forgiving Alameda Councilmember Stewart Chen and his failure to disclose he was convicted of insurance fraud 20 years ago. However, as they say, Chen re-election next November will not be decided in Bartalini's courtroom, but by the court of public opinion.
Ralph Farias apparently announced his third
run for the Hayward City Council this week
with this photo on his Instagram account.
ONE OTHER THING One of the more enjoyable aspects of covering elections is watching the odd and entertaining antics that often richly color local races. When it comes to brash, nobody beats Hayward City Council candidate Ralph Farias, who signaled his intention to make a third consecutive run for office, with the Instagram photo to the right. Farias, whose campaign style is definitely more Hulk Hogan than John F. Kennedy, is actually a very thoughtful and conservative (ideological!) candidate. However, his message is sometimes wrapped in histrionics. Here's how I described Farias in 2012 when he spoke in favor of allowing Walmart to set up shop in Hayward:

Instead of standing in line with other speakers, Farias stood at the back of the City Hall chambers. He bounced back and forth on his toes like a prize fighter awaiting introduction to the ring. When the commission's chairperson called his name, he trotted down the aisle until he reached the lectern. Once there he hopped once and vigorously shook his head side-to-side before speaking--shaking the cobwebs free while awaiting his trainer to hoist a spit bucket to his head and slather Vaseline on his temples.

"I think this guy watches too much wrestling," a union member there to oppose Walmart turned and said. You can't fault Farias for his enthusiasm, but nothing personifies his gumption than a campaign flyer he put out recently featuring a large photo of Farias mugging the camera in a pork pie hat along with a shot of himself, hands on his hips, peering steadfast into the future. "You ever seen Citizen Kane?" said Farias. "That's what I'm talking about."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Port of Oakland Rejects Maritime Uses for Potential A’s Ballpark Site

Berths 67-68, otherwise, known as 
Howard Terminal.
PORT OF OAKLAND | HOWARD TERMINAL |The Port of Oakland unanimously rejected three proposed maritime uses for the 50-acre Howard Terminal site near Jack London Square, one of which environmental groups vehemently opposed due to concerns over the proposed shipping of coal and petroleum coke through the port. In addition, the decision is a first step that may one day lead to a 38,000-seat waterfront ballpark at the site for the Oakland Athletics. A group of local investors unveiled a plan last December to finance the ballpark, although Athletics ownership repeatedly says the venue is not suitable for the team.

The stadium issue, however, was never directly mentioned during Thursday afternoon’s port meeting. Instead, members of the Sierra Club and other local environmentalist groups urged port commissioners to follow a staff recommendation to reject all three proposals for the port. Two weeks ago, commissioners acquiesced to a plea by one bidder, Bowie Resources Partners, LLC, to allow it more time to provide documentation to the port’s staff. A representative from Bowie, which sought to export commodities such as coal, petroleum coke, borax and iron ore through West Oakland, said it was evaluating the potential use of covered transport to carry coal through the East Bay. The extra two weeks, however, did little to reverse the previous staff recommendation.

Margaret Gordon, a former port commissioner and long-time West Oakland neighborhood advocate, told her former colleagues to remember their social responsibility. “Keep doing what you’re doing and don’t allow cargo to come in here and have people adversely pay with their health just because there’s a port here.”

Oakland resident and activist Susan Harman, said, “Coal is the dirtiest of the dirty fossil fuels and the only solution to climate issues is to keep it all in the ground.” Harmon and other opponents of coal who spoke Tuesday highlighted the global ramifications of the port facilitating the burning of fossil fuels across the globe. “It doesn’t really matter at what point of that chain we stop it,” added Harmon, “but we have the power to break that chain here in Oakland.”

The port commissioners offered little disagreement other than a concern by Commissioner Earl Hamlin about potential legal costs should any of the bidders sue the port. “I don’t care about litigation costs, I care about the community,” said Commissioner Michael Colbruno. “Are we really going to export this [coal] to third world countries? Is that what the Port of Oakland is for?”

Colbruno, appointed to the port commission by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, was the lone dissenting voice two weeks ago for postponing the vote on Howard Terminal. He also registered support Thursday for finding other maritime uses for Howard Terminal, as long as they benefit the port and community. East Bay baseball fans think a long-sought downtown ballpark might satisfy both accounts. The port’s determination Thursday sets the early stages for the port to begin contemplating a ballpark at the property or some other types of use for Howard Terminal. Commissioner Alan Yee said the port’s ad hoc committee will meet next week to further discuss Howard Terminal’s long-term future. However, the meeting is not open to the public.


Honda Leads All Comers In Latest Poll; Republican May Be Undercutting Khanna

Ro Khanna, Mike Honda
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | In a three-way race for the 17th Congressional District, Rep. Mike Honda holds a double-digit lead in both the June primary and head-to-head matchups in November against fellow Democrat Ro Khanna and Republican Vanila Singh. The poll, conducted Feb. 13-16 by Public Policy Polling, was commissioned by Democracy for America, which endorsed Honda last year.

The results not only show Honda in firm control of the race with under 100 days until the top two June primary, but also reveals the potential disruption the conservative Singh, a South Bay physician who entered the race last December, may pose for Khanna. Both are of Indian descent in one of the largest Indo American regions in the country.

When party affiliation is attached to each candidate, Honda received 45 percent of the poll, followed by Singh at 29 percent and Khanna at 26 percent. However, when the affiliation is removed, Honda’s support rises to 62 percent while Singh’s drops precipitously to 11 percent. Khanna, meanwhile, remains virtually constant at 27 percent, according to the poll. Both poll questions, however, include a relatively high margin of error at 6 percent.

"This poll shows that the real battle in June's primary will be between Ro Khanna and Dr. Vanila Singh, to see who will make it onto the ballot with Congressman Honda for November's general election," said Vivek Kembaiyan, communication director for the Honda campaign. "If I were supporting Khanna's campaign, I'd be seriously concerned that after spending over $1.1 million, they are in third place behind a candidate who has spent $915."

Republican Vanila Singh
Khanna’s campaign had a different take on the results when compared to an early poll commissioned by the Honda campaign almost a year ago showing a ridiculously large gap in support of the incumbent. “It is encouraging to know that, in a matter of months, Ro has increased his support from 5 percent to 26 percent while Rep. Honda’s lead has plummeted from 52 to 19 points and he’s now well under 50 percent--a danger sign for any incumbent," said Tyler Law, Khanna's communication director. "It’s clear that Ro’s campaign of energy and ideas is connecting with voters, who are tired of the stasis and dysfunction in Congress. The trends are very much in favor of change this November.”

Head-to-head general election matchups also favor Honda, according to the poll, which this time, feature a much larger sample of the district’s voter and a margin of error of 4.4 percent. In a November race between Honda and Khanna, Honda leads 61-39 percent. Honda also leads a bipartisan race against Singh, 69-31 percent. Similarly, Honda’s approval/disapproval numbers polled at 61-31 percent, with 8 percent without an opinion.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ruby's Mayoral Bid Focuses on Getting Oakland Out of the Red

Courtney Ruby: Oakland's newest
mayoral candidate.
OAKLAND | MAYOR | Telling it like it is got Oakland City Auditor Courtney Ruby in trouble with two of the city's black council members. Despite protestation against her scathing audit last year alleging Desley Brooks and Larry Reid violated the City Charter and race-baiting comments lobbed towards her, the veracity of Ruby's report was never debunked. In fact, both council members had egg on their face when Ruby showed up to a subsequent council meeting with her two children in tow--both of color.

So, it's no surprise, Ruby's run for Oakland mayor, announced Wednesday, features the tagline, "Time to tell it like it is." As city auditor, Ruby has not only called out violations by various council members over the often abused non-interference rules laid out in the City Charter, but uncovered wasteful spending by the Oakland Police Department and returned $2.3 million in overpaid parking tickets to residents.

A strategy of stretching the budget for additional city services is a topic Ruby can plausibly argue. On her campaign Web site, Ruby says she identified $6 in waste for every $1 spent by her office. "That’s money that can be used for priorities like public safety and infrastructure," she said.

Ruby's audits over her two terms in office, not surprisingly, have won few friends at City Hall. Her campaign to unseat Mayor Jean Quan may ruffle more feathers. "The simple truth is, if Oakland had more inspired and ethical leaders focused on results," said Ruby, "we wouldn’t be in so much trouble in so many areas."

Supervisor Keith Carson's Personal, Expletive-Filled Plea For Mental Health

Supervisor Keith Carson
ALAMEDA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS | No other elected official in the East Bay comports himself in the manner of a statesman than Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson. He is pensive listener who typically responds with measured, sometimes lengthy silloloquys. Yet, during an uncommonly passionate Board of Supervisors meeting Tueday, Carson's personal struggles with a mentally ill member of his immediate family was the launching pad for one of the most surprising and visceral moments ever seen during a local government meeting.

Ironically, Carson's passionate outburst may have been triggered by the board's most infamous bad boy, Supervisor Nate Miley. With typical bravado, Miley told the audience he was ready to vote on a long-discussed plan to create a five-patient pilot program for court-ordered treatment of the chronically mentally ill in Alameda County. In his view, there was little need to support Carson's motion to send the plan back to the drawing board for another three months. The issue had been fully discussed and vetted, Miley argued. “The house is divided. So, as an elected official, I have to make the call. And my job is to balance equities and do what I think is in the best interest of society, our community, of all of us and not just one side or the other.”

“By not moving ahead with this pilot program, we are saying, we are afraid to consider this as a model.” The pilot program can be tweaked later or dumped, he added. “We take lessons learned.”

“The consequence of not doing stuff is that we continue to delay and as we continue to delay other people might continue to suffer as a result of that.” Miley, though, unlike Carson and Superivsor Wilma Chan, who described various experiences with mentally ill family members, said he had no such personal experience.

“I respect some people come to conclusions quicker than others,” said Carson in initially calm tones before he referenced an immediate family diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and witnessing the chaos that results from a call to law enforcement.

“I have personally seen that person restrained. I have personally seen that person force-fed medication. I personally continue to live with that person's disability and so this is not something I have read about, this is something I’ve fucking experienced every fucking day. So I understand the pain a lot of people are going through on both sides because I’ve lived it. I’ve experienced it. I’ve seen it. Trying to figure out how to make a family member to take their medicine. How to get them back into society. How to get them outside of their house. That’s not something I read about. That’s something I experienced. It’s not six months, it’s 35 fucking years.

"I asked if we could have three additional months to bring all the key stakeholders to the table to see if anything else can be fleshed out. That was for more than just the people in this room. That’s for all the other people who don’t have the advocacy. They don’t have the people that can help them. To see if we can put forth an even better measure."

Alameda County Puts Controversial Laura's Law Pilot Program on Hold

ALAMEDA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS | During one of the most heartbreaking, riveting and longest Alameda County Board of Supervisors meetings in recent memory, a long-discussed proposal to approve the early stages of a court-ordered treatment program for the mentally ill, was put on hold Tuesday after over five hours of testimony and clear signs of division among the normally staid board.

Numerous speakers passionately urged for and against the controversial program some deride as a violation of civil rights and others view as a last resort for loved ones who repeatedly neglect treatment for their mental illness. A state law dubbed Laura’s Law (also referred to as AB 1421 by county officials) gives counties the authority to create a program that uses the courts to force chronically non-compliant patients into outpatient care.

The proposal sought to create a one-year pilot program comprised of up to five patients and estimated to cost around $225,000 for treatment and legal fees. “It is not a panacea," said Alameda County Healthcare Services Director Alex Briscoe. "It is for a small number of patients who are deteriorating currently and who we believe cannot maintain safety right now."

The impetus for the county’s push for opting-in to Laura’s Law started over two years ago with the murder of Berkeley resident Peter Cukor by Daniel DeWitt, a mentally ill young man who routinely resisted help for his condition. His parents, Al and Candy DeWitt, say Laura’s Law would have saved both their son and Cukor. The couple have since become one of the leading advocates for Laura’s Law.

They argue the program is a kinder tool for mental health experts to administer care, rather than the sometime combative scenarios when a person is deemed a danger themselves and must be restrained and incarcerated. “I once witnessed my son being forcefully held against his will,” said Al DeWitt. “It was horrible and painful to watch.” His wife urged opponents of Laura’s Law not to look at them as adversaries. “Nobody is more on your side than us,” said Candy DeWitt as she turned to the audience.

Alameda County Healthcare Services has been honing the county’s iteration of Laura's Law for much of the past year. Many well-attended public meeting have occurred since. Over the span of the discussion, the plan’s likelihood of being approved by the Board of Supervisors has gone from unlikely to likely and back. At Tuesday’s meeting, Supervisors Scott Haggerty, Richard Valle and Keith Carson voiced skepticism whether the county’s proposal, as it stands, is well-conceived. (Carson, Haggerty, Valle voted to continue the discussion; Chan voted no; Miley abstained.) Haggerty said he was torn between both sides of the argument. “What if we get it wrong, I keep thinking that. What happens?” he said. “Laura’s law might get you there. But I keep thinking, ‘Can we be more passionate in Alameda County?’” Haggerty later told Briscoe, “We can do better, Alex.”

Tuesday’s agenda item simply asked the Board of Supervisors for the go-ahead to begin fleshing out a specific proposal based on Laura’s Law. Valle, however, worried the issue had created divisions among the board and the community. “There’s nothing for me to vote on that says this model works,” said Valle, who urged for a public meeting in his south county district. The proposal also failed to take into account the county’s unique gender, age and cultural differences, he said. “It has to be different because this is Alameda County.”

Carson, too, voiced support for furthering the discussion in hopes of creating, what he called, an “Alameda County model” that may perform a similar functions to Laura’s Law. Supervisor Wilma Chan, one of the main backers of Laura Law’s in the county, however, urged for a vote Tuesday, but was also amendable to additional dialogue on the subject, she said. Supervisor Nate Miley, another proponent, sensed the board was divided and huffily proposed using his own Oakland-centric district for the pilot, while contended his colleagues were “afraid” to make a decision on Laura’s Law. “Implement it in my district. Let me be the guinea pig for the five,” he declared after noting having no personal experience with the mentally ill. The comments set off Carson, who described his own history with a mentally ill family member and peppered his remarks with language rarely heard in the supervisor’s chambers.

“I have personally seen that person restrained. I have personally seen that person force-fed medication. I personally continue to live with that person’s disability and so this is not something I have read about,” said Carson. He later sniped at Chan. Studying the issue for another three months might allow for an even better program for all sides of the mental health question, he urged. “That’s for all the other people who don’t have the advocacy. They don’t have the people that can help them."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

United Farm Workers Endorse Hayashi for State Senate

CAMPAIGN 2014 | STATE SENATE | 10TH DISRICT | A few weeks back, former East Bay Assemblymember Mary Hayashi burnished her strong ties to labor when addressing a large group of county Democratic leaders. On Tuesday, Hayashi began delivering on that potential with the endorsement of the United Farm Workers for her run in the 10th State Senate District.

The union praised Hayashi for her commitment to the farm workers movement. “We hold you in the highest regard and consider you to be an individual with platinum status in the eyes of farmworkers,” said UFW President Arturo Rodriguez in a press release sent by the Hayashi campaign.

Although the 10th District is quite large, farm land is not one of the region’s main economic drivers. Nonetheless, on the heels of a promising poll released by Hayashi’s campaign last week and her large campaign account balance, Hayashi’s candidacy is apparently viable enough to attract the support of one of the state’s strongest and historically significant labor unions. The union’s link to labor hero Cesar Chavez is also a positive signifier for many in the district’s large Latino population. UFW also endorsed Hayashi’s run in 2012 for Alameda County supervisor.

Conversely, Hayashi’s main competitor for the seat, Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski, is also favorable to labor interests. In addition to Hayashi and Wieckowski, other likely candidates in the June 3 primary include, Fremont Planning Commissioner Roman Reed, Alameda County Judge Roy Hashimoto, former Green Party Assemblymember Audie Bock, and Peter Kuo, a Republican.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Skinny: Oakland City Council Committees, Feb. 25, 2014

Oakland City Council Committees Preview
1 Frank Ogawa Plaza
Tuesday, Feb. 25, begins at 9:30 a.m.
Hashtag: #oakmtg

ROSY ECONOMIC NUMBERS City Administration says Oakland has an additional $18 million in projected revenue during the second quarter of the current fiscal year. A vast majority of the increase, the mayor’s office says, come from $16.4 million in additional revenues from the Real Estate Transfer Tax. WHAT IT MEANS To balance the city’s budget, $7.7 million of the projected additional funding needs to be allocated, says the staff report. In addition, the city anticipates a funding gap for 2014-15 to be nearly $15 million, says the city’s finance department. BE AWARE An additional item offered by Councilmember Libby Schaaf seeks to create a reserve for unfunded liabilities with $534,500. The reserve was born out of the City Council’s budget agreement last June. However, no paperwork was included in the committee’s agenda packet, as of Monday. (Starts at 9:30 a.m.)

OPD ATTRITION An informational report on the Oakland Police Department’s employee retention plan will be offered Tuesday evening. The report addresses the city’s recruiting and hiring process, along with academy and field training. WHAT IT MEANS Oakland is still suffering from an exodus of police officers. With a five percent attrition rate, OPD lost 28 police officers through resignations last year. Eighty-two percent of which had a decade or more experience on the force. Stress, commute time and “a desire for a more stable environment” were among the reasons for quitting, says a city report. BE AWARE The Public Safety Committee will be asked to allocated $635,000 in State COPS grants. The largest outlay includes $300,000 for converting archival crime reports from microfilm to digital...A resolution allowing the Oakland PD to affiliate with the Peralta Community College District for public safety training course at a cost of $200,000 is on the agenda. (Starts at 6 p.m.)

HOUSING GRANTS Allocations for five affordable housing projects totaling over $7.6 million could ultimately bring a total of 170 rental apartments to Oakland. In addition, proposals include rehab for five new affordable ownership scattered site housing and 22 existing affordable rental housing. WHAT IT MEANS The five recommended projects are the Marcus Garvey Commons Affordable Housing Development at Goss and 7th Streets; The Civic Center 14 TOD Rental Project at 632 14th Street; the 11th and Jackson Apartments Rental Project at 1110 Jackson Street; 94th and International Affordable Housing Development; and Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley for the Oakland Home Renovation Program. (Starts at 2 p.m.)

NO PARKING ZONE A proposed no parking zone around Bancroft between 68th Avenue and 73 Avenue will be discussed WHAT IT MEANS The Oakland Police Departments says the area near Eastmont Mall is a haven for illegal auto repairs and other disruptive activities. Cost of new signage prohibiting parking is $2,500, says the city. (Starts at 11:30 a.m.)

FOR THE CHILDREN Just one item on Tuesday’s agenda. The committee accepts the 2012-13 final evaluation report from the Oakland Children and Youth Planning and Oversight Committee. (Starts at 4 p.m.)


Friday, February 21, 2014

Wieckowski Bill Offers Anonymous Path for Victims of Revenge Porn to File Suit

ASSEMBLY | 25TH DISTRICT | State Attorney General Kamala Harris has recently been hot on the heels of so-called revenge porn operators who post sexually-explicit images of people to a Web site for the means of embarrassing them. Often the sites turn around and request hundreds of dollars to remove the graphic photos, many of which once reflected the romantic moments of a relationship before it later went sideways. Harris’s office nabbed one such purveyor last week and another in December. However, these are criminal cases and attempting to sue perpetrators in civil court is not so easy.

Fremont Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski has authored a bill he believes sets a path for victims of revenge porn to file suit in civil court. “Right now there’s no clear path to a civil remedy for victims of this type of reprehensible behavior,” said Wieckowski.

The bill, AB 2643, creates a right of action for victims, many of whom are women, to file their case without using their name and, instead, using a pseudonym. Wieckowski says many victims are unwilling to file lawsuits against those who distribute their intimate photos and video without their consent, since their names and the complaint will become part of the public record.

“These women are often fearful of drawing more attention to the images and they need the option to file pseudonymously to prevent their names or identifying characteristics from being publicly revealed in a case,” said Wieckowski. “Unfortunately, almost half of the victims say they have been harassed or stalked by people who saw the images.”

In some ways, AB 2643 could be called “Nadia’s Law.” The former Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer was the victim of a highly-publicized case of revenge porn in 2012 after her former lover posted two sexually-explicit videos of her on YouTube. In this case, however, Lockyer was a public official. Despite the distasteful act, free speech advocates tacitly defend revenge porn as long as it does not violate criminal laws such as, child pornography and stalking.

Union Vows to Influence Hayward's June Election, Now They Just Need to Find Some Liberal Candidates

BANG Blackmails Honda | Wife of Oakland Candidate Gets Arrested | Duh-Saulnier | #EricLies
CHAPTER 3 | So, know that we know the Hayward City Council is the most conservative group of public officials outside of your local sanitary board, the Service Employee International Union Local 1021 is vowing to unseat the whole lot of them. But, the union has a big problem when it comes to overthrowing the B Street Bums inside of Hayward City Hall. There are very few liberal candidates already in races for mayor or the city council and fewer ready-made recruits to be had before the June 3 election. Last Tuesday night after the Hayward City Council offered nearly 300 union workers a fat cup of tea by unanimously imposing a one-year contract with a five percent pay cut, representatives for SEIU Local 1021 acknowledged some serious recruiting needs to be quickly accomplished. All three current candidates for mayor are members of the City Council. Councilmembers Barbara Halliday, Mark Salinas and Francisco Zermeno are, as former San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly said this week, "on his shit list."

SEIU Local 1021's Executive Director Pete Castelli said the entire Hayward City Council, in effect, sealed their destiny Tuesday night. “What they kissed off is this: there will be no central labor council endorsement, no endorsement for the Democratic Party. What they have said is I’m going to do this to these workers and launch into the political waters on my own to win and I think they’re going to find those waters are choppy and very problematic.”

Members of the Hayward City Council: will they still be
smiling after the June 3 city elections?
Castelli's assessment is no doubt very plausible. This group of seven will be tarnished going forward. However, the three mayoral candidate's may not feel the union's threat unless a more progressive candidate enters the race. But, who might that be? One possible candidate could be former Hayward Councilmember Olden Henson, who lost his seat in 2012 after 18 years on the council. In fact, there's a flip side here to the union's threats against Halliday, Salinas and Zermeno. Henson's defeat, in large part, came after he tread against the city's business interests by blocking a Walmart Neighborhood Market from coming to Hayward. Henson was the deciding vote and it enraged some business leaders who, like SEIU this week, vowed retaliation. When Halliday was asked in an interview Tuesday night about SEIU's plans for her ruination, she brushed away the threat. "You know they were coming after me two years ago when I voted on the [Walmart] grocery store." Such talk only further inflames the union, especially one that vanquished much stronger opponents last year like BART and the City of Oakland.

Conversely, there is room for the union to make a difference in the city council campaign for two open seats. Councilmember Marvin Peixoto, already someone whose re-election was viewed in Hayward as somewhat vulnerable even before this week's vote, could be in trouble. Currently, there are two members of the Hayward Chamber of Commerce running for the council. Likely, neither will satisfy SEIU. However, Hayward Planning Commissioner Rodney Loche has liberal-leanings and may be an attractive candidate for the union to pour its resources toward.

What exactly does SEIU have planned for Halliday, Salinas, Zermeno, Peixoto, and, to some extent, lame-duck Mayor Michael Sweeney? “We will be very involved in the elections," said Castelli. "We will be monitoring every public event, every fundraiser and we’ll be there to let them know we're watching.”

“They pulled the tail of the tiger," he added. As for Sweeney, who will be out of office by July, Daly said, “It doesn’t mean we don’t visit his house and let him know we’re upset by his actions.”
Striking Hayward city employees last August.
TRI VALLEY CONSERVATIVES MIGHT BE WATCHING When Hayward city employees represented by SEIU Local 1021 staged a three-day strike last August, Rep. Eric Swalwell made no effort to publicly back the nearly 300 workers, most of whom are at the low-end of the city's wage scale. Before the Hayward City Council came down hard on the union by imposing a one-year contract with a five percent pay cut, Swalwell again remained silent. However, representatives from SEIU Local 1021 say Swalwell made phone calls to council members on their behalf. Admittedly, the union reps were skeptical about Swalwell’s intentions and whether his sudden involvement had more to do with his union-friendly opponent, State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, than concern over the plight of union employees. If Swalwell, or his office, reached out to Hayward city leaders, they forgot to call Councilmember Barbara Halliday. She doesn’t recall receiving a call from Swalwell or any county or local state officials.
BANG BLACKMAILS HONDA? Those who recall the single, most ridiculous editorial in recent memory from the Oakland Tribune a few months back calling for Oakland Mayor Jean Quan to not seek re-election, know not to expect much from the Bay Area News Group’s editorial department. That being said, in an editorial this week published in the San Jose Mercury News, the paper's call for Rep. Mike Honda to debate Ro Khanna, sounded an awful lot like blackmail. You don’t have to read much between the lines to understand BANG is demanding Honda get on that stage and debate or they will think about endorsing Khanna in the June primary. In addition, the newspaper reveals it is currently negotiating their own sponsorship of one potential debate. After this stunt, why should Honda’s camp trust the newspaper going forward? Conversely, who cares about newspaper endorsements, anyway? [Read "An Alternative Reason Why Newspaper Endorsements Mean Nothing] Especially one from an outfit so delusional about its place in the Bay Area media landscape that it thinks it can bully a seven-time congressman into a debate that is clearly not in his best interests. They even call Honda a “nice guy.” I guess nice guys finish last.

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier
DUH-SAULNIER State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier doesn’t recall signing a card last year endorsing Ellen Corbett? Well, at least, he was honest about it. The erroneous campaign endorsement is one of the lamest and oddly common campaign missteps around. Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t happen somewhere in the East Bay about three more times this year. What makes this misunderstanding so dumb is it’s not as if DeSaulnier is never around Corbett. She’s the senate’s majority leader. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter how long ago he may have signed this endorsement card for Corbett. Eight months ago everybody knew Corbett was running against Swalwell and DeSaulnier knew the political dynamic that exists in his neck of the woods. Swalwell is Ellen Tauscher’s boy. He should know better and it doesn’t inspire much confidence that DeSaulnier is worthy of inheriting Rep. George Miller’s seat.
Dan Siegel
HERE AND THERE In 2010, there were 10 candidates for mayor of Oakland. This fall, there could potential be as many as 12 candidates. With so many people vying for the mayor’s office, it’s going to make candidate's forums quite tedious as some no-name gets equal time with Quan and her four prominent challengers…In addition, the wife of Oakland mayoral candidate Dan Siegel was among those arrested last week following a rally calling on State Attorney General Kamala Harris to prosecute police officers alleged to have killed innocent citizens…Port of Oakland Commissioner Michael Colbruno filed papers to run for Councilmember Pat Kernighan’s open seat. However, he posted a message on Facebook this week stating he will pull out of the race if progressive darling Abel Guillen officially announces his candidacy…Two weeks ago, Mary Hayashi said she plans to pad her $734,000 campaign war chest. One pipeline of contributions might come from Korean dry cleaner owners in the Bay Area. This group has come through for Hayashi in the past.

Seven more votes and Swalwell would
have, indeed, won.
ONE MORE THING Rep. Eric Swalwell straight up lied two weeks ago when a graphic from his campaign declared he had won the pre-endorsement of the Alameda County Democratic Party. He didn’t win anything last Feb. 6. To be clear, he won the most votes over Ellen Corbett. But to say Swalwell won anything is to believe the Golden State Warriors won a basketball game just because they were leading after three quarters. A pre-endorsement victory would have entailed winning 70 percent of the vote. Everybody knew that. Swalwell garnered 61 percent, or, seven votes short of the requirement. The result was really a major blunder for his campaign since it couldn’t close small the gap. In fact, numerous sources say Swalwell was aggressive in parlaying pressure from Ellen Tauscher and, specifically, his old boss, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley for votes. There’s no room for Swalwell to equivocate here. He lied to his supporters and now there even exists a #EricLies hashtag on Twitter.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bonta Offers Struggling Community Colleges a Makeup Exam

ASSEMBLY | 18TH DISTRICT | EDUCATION | The Sacramento Bee’s Dan Walters says the City College of San Francisco is using friends in high places to get out from under threat of losing its accreditation. The City’s state senator has a bill hoping to inject additional state funding for the struggling community college, and across the bay, Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta introduced a bill that takes aim at the heavy laying pressure on CCSF—the accreditation commission, itself.

Bonta’s bill, AB 1942, allows the state’s 112 community colleges the opportunity to seek out other accreditation entities other than the Accrediting Commission of Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), the only such body currently available for two-year colleges.

Watch Bonta’s remarks at Wednesday’s press conference:

Sheila Jordan's Legacy Poses a Challenge for her Hand-Picked Successor

Candidates to replace retiring Alameda County Superintendent of Schools Sheila Jordan at a forum Wednesday in Hayward. Left to right, Jeff Bowser, Helen Foster, Karen Monroe and Ursula Reed. PHOTO/Steven Tavares
CAMPAIGN 2014 | ALCO SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS |There has long been a sense the queen of Alameda County education, Sheila Jordan, has become unresponsive to the needs of some of its struggling school districts and created a bloated administration filled with, what critics derisively describe as F.O.S, or, Friends of Sheila. With Jordan, a former city council and school board members in Oakland, retiring this year, four candidates say they hope to improve the quality of education in Alameda County, except, it’s not hard to discern which of the three is Jordan’s hand-picked successor.

Sheila Jordan
Karen Monroe was named assistant county superintendent two years ago, but as Jordan was contemplating retirement last year, she quietly moved to appoint Monroe to replace her. However, some members of the Alameda County Board of Education privately nixed the idea of giving Monroe the electorally advantageous power of the incumbency in 2014. Monroe acknowledges the attempt by Jordan to appoint her as a replacement, but says she preferred running for office on her own merits.

“The idea of an appointment came up,” said Monroe, “but I asked her to let me run because I know how that works. I know people around here in the community are not in favor of that move.” She also wanted to maintain her independence, she said. “First of all, I’m not going to owe anybody anything for putting me in office.” Nevertheless, some are already connecting Monroe with her ties to Jordan. “Sure, I get that often. ‘Are you just going to be Sheila’s best friend? Are you going to be the same [as Jordan]?’,” said Monroe. “I do work for her. There are things that I like about what she’s done, there are things I would do differently.”

In addition to Monroe, the June 3 race includes San Leandro Councilmember Ursula Reed, Pleasanton Unified School District Trustee Jeff Bowser and San Lorenzo Unified School District Trustee Helen Foster.

If a majority of the vote is not gained by
any candidate June 3, a general election
matchup between Monroe and Reed is likely.
PHOTO/Steven Tavares 
Monroe’s three opponents are well aware of the positives and negatives associated with being Jordan’s favored successor. During an hour-long candidates forum Wednesday evening, it was clear the basis of their platforms, outside of Monroe’s, was to portray Jordan’s 14-year tenure in a negative light, even as the subject of their dissatisfaction was watching from the back of the room.

“I don’t think we need more of the same,” said Foster. “I think we need fresh ideas and we need the modeling of those ideas from the top.” Many in the community from school district superintendents on down to parents say there is no outreach from the county superintendent’s office, she added, “For the last 15 years, I feel like the Alameda County office has lost sight of its mission and purpose.”

Reed, who won a second term to the San Leandro City Council in 2012, likely possesses the most political experience in the race. She has also worked for school districts in Oakland and Hayward. “I believe that makes the difference,” said Reed, who advocated for creating partnerships between the Alameda County Office of Education and private companies. Earlier in the forum, Reed also made allusion to Jordan’s legacy when she vowed to eliminate cronyism at the office of education.

Bowser was the more deferential of the candidates toward Jordan as he often took the high road while using personal stories to convey his platform. As the first of three to graduate from college from a strong middle class background, Bowser said the inaccessibility of higher education worries him. “What really scares me about this economy that we see is we’re losing those middle class jobs and we know the key aspect in order to gain this is to make sure we have a well-educated and healthy populace and it starts with the schools,” said Bowser.

However, when it came time for Monroe to defend her position, and by extension, her boss's accomplishments, she said, “I don’t think we’re broken. We are absolutely not broken. Can we get better? Absolutely."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

'This is an Act of War': Hayward Imposes Five Percent Pay Cut on City Workers

Hayward City Manager Fran David, right,
is seen by the union as one of the city's
hard line advocates for imposition.
HAYWARD CITY COUNCIL | LABOR | The city council of Hayward, a city once known as the most union-friendly in the Bay Area, unanimously voted Tuesday night to force pay cuts on nearly three hundred union clerical and maintenance workers. Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021 in Hayward have been without a contract since last April. And both sides of the growing labor dispute have not met at the bargaining table since last July. The one-year imposition of contracts by the city, which include 5 percent cuts in wages, angered union leaders and members. After the council’s vote, SEIU representatives vowed to fight the council’s action and retaliate politically against each councilmember — three of who are running for mayor this June.

“We will be putting as many resources and energy to ensuring this is reversed and that those who made the decisions are held accountable. Guaranteed,” said Pete Castelli, executive director of SEIU 1021, the same union which won contentious labor disputes last year with BART and the City of Oakland.

Under the terms of the imposed contract, the city’s clerical workers, including librarians, will see a $400-per-month reduction in pay. Maintenance workers, which include road repair and water treatment workers, are slated to have their pay drop by $225-per-month. The new cuts come on top of 12 percent in cumulative givebacks that union members had agreed to since 2010, union officials said.

Councilmember Marvin Peixoto smiles for the camera shortly
before the City Council unanimously approved imposition.
Castelli and other SEIU officials said the threat of rolling strikes by the union and the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) Local 21 is “a strategy in our bag.” SEIU Local 1021 members already approved a strike last summer and staged a three-day work stoppage in August. Castelli said he would consult with membership before moving forward with a strike. IFPTE Local 21 must vote for authorization.

Former San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly, who now works for SEIU Local 1021, had pointed words for Hayward councilmembers. “Each of them, now, is on my personal shit list,” said the famously outspoken Daly. Shortly after the council vote to impose, Daly rose from his seat and verbally taunted and pointed at each of the seven members. While the council meeting proceeded to its next agenda item, Daly attempted to approach the dais to have further words with two members of the council. Later, when asked in an interview what he told them, Daly said, “I wanted to make sure these councilmembers running in the election know they declared an act of war.” He then added, “I will make it my mission that none of them ever receive a labor endorsement, and, ultimately, I want to see each one of them out of office.”

The three members of the council who are running for mayor to replace Mayor Michael Sweeney, who announced his retirement last year, are Barbara Halliday, Mark Salinas, and Francisco Zermeno. Councilmember Marvin Peixoto is also running for re-election in an at-large race featuring two open seats. However, at the moment, there is a dearth of progressive candidates in the city.

Hayward’s decision to impose the wage-cutting contracts came after a report released earlier this month by a fact-finding panel, approved by both sides, that had recommended union workers receive raises of at least 4 percent over the next two years. Without cuts in wages and a reduction of its unfunded liabilities, the city has long-maintained it could be “another Vallejo or Stockton” by 2018. But the council’s decision to cut workers' pay is surprising to many since Hayward’s has one of the highest percentage of union households in the Bay Area.

Although each councilmember described having personal roots in the labor movement, most framed their decision Tuesday night as a strategy to maintain workers’ current benefits well into the future. Others said the action was the only means available for cajoling the union back to the negotiating table. Union officials vehemently deny avoiding negotiations and instead labeled the city’s offer as “our way or the highway.”

Councilmember Al Mendall said the city’s unfunded liabilities are a threat to its workers. “If we don’t save now, we put your benefits at risk.” When he later called himself a “pro-labor Democrat,” a union member shouted out “Tea Party by night! Democrat by day!”

Halliday faulted the union for not taking into account the city’s rising costs and previous take-backs from the state. “I don’t recall the union standing up for us when the state was taking all kinds of money away from us.” She later contended that without the pay cuts, the city would not be able to afford benefits for workers in the future. “One thing I don’t want to be doing is sitting in my rocking chair years from now reading the news on my iPad,” said Halliday, “and reading about workers who are not getting their pensions and medical benefits.”

Salinas, who is an educator and a member of two teachers’ unions, said his vote Tuesday was influenced by past state cuts to community colleges. “I would like for us to come up with a deal that will protect and preserve things,” said Salinas. And Zermeno contended that even with the 5 percent cut in pay, the city is still overspending. “It’s a little crazy,” he said. “If I were to look away from this, it would be fiscally irresponsible.”

Regardless, union members were not swayed by the council’s reasoning and, instead, focused on reeling the city back to the bargaining table. “How hard is it for one of you to say, let’s get back to the table?” said Gilbert Hesia, a member of the SEIU Local 1021 negotiating team. “You not only hurt us, you hurt the community. You want a deal, get us to the table.”

This article also appears in the East Bay Express.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Privacy Groups Urge Oakland City Council to Scrap the DAC

OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | DAC | Privacy groups are aggressively lobbying members of the Oakland City Council to vote Tuesday night against a resolution approving a $1.6 million contract for the second phase of the Domain Awareness Center (DAC). In addition, the groups are calling on the council to halt the entire project funded by federal tax dollars and initially targeted for use at the Port of Oakland. The current iteration links a variety of cameras in Oakland belonging to a host of disparate government bodies, along with data from law enforcement into a single surveillance hub.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a nationally known non-profit formed to defend civil liberties in the digital world, and a long list of privacy groups sent two letters this week to council members citing the surveillance hub's potential to infringe of citizen's rights, its unfunded costs and an incomplete privacy policy, not yet vetted by the public.

"The DAC, by its very nature, enables unconstitutional surveillance. It will enable unprecedented access to information from around the city by aggregating previously unrelated data sources," EFF activist Nadia Kayyali wrote to the council. In the letter, the EFF called a document released last week by the City Administrator Deanna Santana's office laying out the initial framework for the DAC's privacy policy as "deeply flawed" and fails to incorporate suggestions from the public.

"It is a mistake to grant any further approvals regarding the DAC at this time," the letter continues. "City staff have not answered any of the questions that have been raised by attorneys, community members, and privacy advocates. Unelected city staff have been irresponsible and unresponsive and yet are asking for what is essentially a blank check to go forward with the DAC. Approving the resolution today would be an abdication of the City Council's oversight role. The project must not go forward."

A similar letter in protest signed by the Oakland Privacy Working Group, Code Pink, the San Francisco Bay Area Council on American-Islamic Relations and former Oakland Councilmember Wilson Riles, among others, was also delivered to council members this week.

The letter charges the DAC creates "grave concerns" over infringement of civil liberties in Oakland. The unfunded future costs of running the DAC, estimated at $1.6 million annually, is too costly for the city's bottom line, they write. "The City has spent the last few years making severe budget cuts, and it would be forced to make even deeper cuts to comply wit the balanced budget provision."

There appears to be no specific discussion among city leaders for fully pulling the plug on the DAC, at this time. However, some members of the Oakland City Council Public Safety Committee last week registered uncertainty over the eligibility of the city's preferred vendor for Phase II of the DAC, Schneider Electric, and whether they violate the city's Nuclear Weapons Free Zone ordinance. A staff report last week, determined, however without certainty, that Schneider Electric did not participate in nuclear weapons proliferation.

Hayward Looks to Impose Pay Cuts on City Union Workers

Hayward city employees striking in front
of City Hall last August.
PHOTO/Steven Tavares
HAYWARD CITY COUNCIL | LABOR |Ten months after contracts for nearly 300 Hayward city employees expired, the City Council may decide Tuesday night to unilaterally impose its last, best and final offer despite declining to meet with labor negotiators since July. Both contracts represent immediate five percent cuts in pay.

If approved, union officials said Monday, the city’s proposal will decrease paychecks an average of $350-per-month. In the past, city employees have agreed to givebacks in wages and benefits of 12 percent since 2010, said union leaders.

Hayward’s aggressive move follows a fact-finding report issued last week recommending negotiators from the city and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021 narrow the list of items currently under consideration.

The three-person panel comprised of an appointed member of both bargaining groups and an independent chairperson urged the city to institute gradual pay increases for clerical and maintenance workers of 4 percent through January 2016 and an additional 2-3 percent depending on the financial health of the city pegged to the consumer price index. A $750 bonus upon the signing the agreement was also recommended.

Hayward city officials portrayed the panel’s findings in a positive light, according to an official response to the report, yet its rejection notice heavily opposes a majority of the panel’s suggestions, including raises.

Meanwhile, the city is sticking to its demand of across-the-board pay cuts of five percent leading to the recommendation the City Council take the unusual step Tuesday night of potentially imposing its final offer on city employees.

Over the past year, Hayward city officials have taken a hard line against both bargaining groups, citing a disputed 10-year fiscal outlook projecting its finances fall into the red starting in 2018. At the same time, City Manager Fran David has consistently voiced alarm over the city’s ability to pay rising unfunded liabilities. For the most part, the Hayward City Council has followed David’s lead even though the city is decided pro-labor and includes a mayoral election this June featuring three members of the current council--all counting on union support as a path to victory.

At the same time, union members have routinely filled the City Council over most of the past year. The tenor of negotiations has also been both public and vitriolic with both sides claiming the other is acting unreasonably. Last August, union leaders openly charged management with threatening layoffs if the city's offer was not approved. In fact, finding common ground has been difficult since last spring.

The union approved a strike in June, while the city declared negotiations at an impasse in late July. In August, union members staged a three-day strike followed by mediation talks that went nowhere. A fact-finding panel was then ordered and conducted in late November and December of last year and culminating with the report released to the public last week.

John Stead-Mendez, deputy Director of SEIU Local 1021 and lead negotiator said. “We have tried to work with city officials over and over, but since July 2013, they have refused to meet with us nor move off their original position of ‘no.’ That’s not bargaining.”

However, the fact-finding panels report may be a ray of hope for a resolution to the city's labor strife, if the City Council refrains from imposing its final offer. “The report represents a good compromise, which we can accept,” said Stead-Mendez.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Tony Daysog for Congress. No, Not in this District. The One Over There

Tony Daysog
CAMPAIGN 2014 | CONGRESS | About a month ago, I received an email from Alameda Councilmember Tony Daysog expressing interest in running for Congress. I was admittedly caught flat-footed by the email. Why would Daysog, a Democrat and two-time councilman in Alameda run against Rep. Barbara Lee, one of the most popular representatives in the state? When I met up with Daysog one sunny Alameda morning a few weeks back, this was my first question. “No,” Daysog protested. “I want to run for George Miller’s seat.”

George Miller, of course, is the long-time congressman who had announced his retirement a week earlier. It’s also the same George Miller who represents Contra Costa County’s 11th Congressional District. Daysog, however, lives in the Lee’s 13th Congressional District, but there is no law saying you must reside in the congressional district you seek. It’s just a whole lot more difficult erasing the carpetbagger tag from your candidacy.

Daysog says he’s only launching an exploratory committee through the filing deadline next month. He works in Walnut Creek, which is within the district’s boundaries and professes to have an understanding for its constituent’s unique political tastes. Daysog is a moderate Democrat, which jibes well with the district, and is one of the most accessible local politicians in the East Bay. Daysog holds weekly office hours at the same local coffee shop which I am writing this article and consistently trots out his folding table and chairs for chatting at local farmers’ markets.

A presumed frontrunner in the race to replace Miller, however, has already been anointed. State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier jumped into the race just hours after Miller announced his retirement and gained the congressman’s endorsement in short time. Miller’s blessing, it seems, has driven away other prospective candidates and avoided the type of free-for-all that erupted recently in Southern California upon the retirement of Rep. Henry Waxman, who, incidentally was elected in the same class as Miller in 1974.

If Daysog indeed runs in the June primary he has two significant tasks ahead. Not only does he need to explain away the carpetbagger tag, but more importantly, begin to chip away at the sense of inevitability which already surrounds DeSaulnier.

The Skinny: Oakland City Council Preview, Feb. 18, 2014

Oakland City Council Preview
1 Frank Ogawa Plaza
Tuesday, Feb. 18, 5:30 p.m.
Twitter hashtag: #oakmtg

THE DAC IS BACK City staff needed more time to determine whether Schneider Electric is eligible under Oakland's Nuclear Weapons Free Zone ordinance to build the second phase of the Domain Awareness Center (DAC). At stake is a $1.6 million contract. Their conclusion? We think so to the "best of our knowledge," said a supplemental staff report. "It is unknown whether there is additional information that could have been evaluated, but some key indicators suggest that Schneider Electric is in compliance and eligible for award of contract." In a committee meeting last week, a few council members registered doubt over Schneider's eligibility.

WHAT IT MEANS Opponents of the citywide surveillance center have circled the date in anticipation of fighting off a second contractor from constructing the Domain Awareness Center by employing the city's Nuclear Weapons Free Zone ordinance, passed by voters in 1992. The first was found in violation of the city law prohibiting companies with ties to nuclear weapons production from receiving city contracts. If the City Council finds Schneider Electric is also ineligible for the contract, the city will have to go back to the drawing board a third time and repeat the process. An attempt by the city administrator to bypass the process of consulting the council before another vendor is selected was removed by the Public Safety Committee last week.

RADIO LEASE DEAL In another instance of the City Council limiting the power of the city administrator, it will approve negotiations for the purpose of procuring a lease deal for $27 million to replace its aging public safety radios. Last week, the Council's Public Safety Committee inserted language in the resolution that directs the deal back to the Council for approval before entering any contract. WHAT IT MEANS A recent report found while Oakland's much-maligned public safety radio system has made great strides in its effectiveness, but its radios need a major overhaul. The expenditure is large and facilitates a leasing program. However, keep an eye on the council's move to again marginalize City Administrator Deanna Santana's power. In the past few months, she has shown eyes for the same job in Dallas and, last week, her name was included in a list of finalists in Phoenix. Can you say, lame duck?

BE AWARE The council may approve a $2 million settlement with Wanning Qian following an accident in September 2012 which a city employee struck and injured the plaintiff...A timeline for placing the reauthorization of Measure Y, the city's public safety parcel tax, on the November ballot will likely be approved by the council along with a schedule of public meetings...Mayor Jean Quan will appoint Gwen McDonald to the Chabot Space & Science Center Joint Powers Authority Board of Directors and Lanenna Joiner to the Violence Prevention and Public Safety Oversight Committee...Two contracts, both no-bid, will be awarded to Townsend Public Affairs to serve as the city's state ($304,500) and federal lobbyist ($168,000).

Councilmember Noel Gallo continues his recent string of resolutions praising community leaders and local businesses. This week he honors Isaac Ruelas with a resolution and the Dreisbach Warehouse Company. Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney declares March 8-15 as Hepatitis C Awareness Week in Oakland, so plan your celebrations accordingly.

This Tuesday night's meeting should be a classic Oakland City Council barn burner. One of those that gobbles up all of your primetime viewing pleasure. The last meeting on Feb. 4 was the exact opposite. With the postponement of the DAC item to this week, it rivaled the sleepy San Leandro City Council in terms of excitement and government deliberation. >>> SEE IT FOR YOURSELF


Khanna Enlists Former U.S. Ambassador to Lead Debate Negotiations

Jeffrey Bleich
CAMPAIGN 2014 | CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Ro Khanna’s campaign has the videographers, maybe the party favors and possibly the venue all lined for a series of monthly debates this year with his congressional opponent. Now, he just needs a dance partner.

Thus far, Rep. Mike Honda is showing no desire to participate in any proposed disco debate even after Khanna has enlisted Jeffrey Bleich, a former U.S. ambassador to Australia, to lead its end of the negotiations.

“Ambassador Jeff Bleich is one of the most respected and talented people that we have in the Democratic Party and it’s an honor to benefit from his counsel,” said Khanna.

Bleich was named ambassador to Australia in 2009 by President Obama. He resigned the post last year and resumed his duties as a partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson in San Francisco.

Honda, however, has resisted Khanna’s repeated calls to debate even as a roster of local media outlets and large tech sites have shown interest in televising or sponsoring such events.

Vivek Kembaiyan, the communications director for Honda’s campaign, said in response to the latest call for debates, “Given how early it is (the full field of candidates isn't set yet), the campaign has not made any decisions yet regarding debates.”

In addition to Honda and Khanna, there may be up to four other candidates vying for the 17th Congressional seat this June. The deadline for filing is March 7.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Corbett Rips Swalwell for Reneging on Paycheck Pledge

ELECTION 2014 | CONGRESS | 15TH DISTRICT | Some East Bay Democrats have been wondering for some time exactly when State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett would show a more offensive stance in her bid to unseat Rep. Eric Swalwell. On Thursday night, Corbett launched the first volley in what could be a contentious race for the 15th Congressional District, when she ripped her opponent for accepting his pay during the 16-day government shutdown last October after publicly declaring he would not.

"This lack of integrity and honesty by Mr. Swalwell is very disappointing," said Corbett in a statement posted on her campaign's Facebook page. "The public has a right to expect honesty from their elected officials. Thousands of unemployed Californians who are struggling to make ends meet after their benefits were terminated by Congress deserve better."

The controversy started this week when KTVU reported Swalwell was one of a few local representatives who pledged to not receive their paychecks during the government shutdown. The latter sent by Swalwell requesting he not be paid, however, is more than slightly convoluted.

However, the rush last year by hundreds of lawmakers last fall to stand resolute with government workers came with more than a whiff of political expediency and grandstanding attached to it. Besides, who was going to expect someone would check if you got paid or not?