Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Jean Quan Releases New Campaign Jam

OAKLAND | MAYOR | Maybe Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is superstitious? As a city councilmember four years ago, Quan was a decided underdog in the mayor's race to beat Don Perata.

Of course, through ranked-choice voting, Quan pulled off the upset and Perata retreated from public office. But, did the keys to her victory have nothing to do with her exhaustive campaign and outreach, but solely the work of a theme song so devilishly catchy it stills burns into your cerebral cortex?

Quan is attempting rekindle the same enthusiasm in an energetic mash up of R&B styles. This week the follow up, "Empowered Woman," created by Vallejo rapper Suga-T (video above) hopes to get people grooving down to the polls on Election Day. In 2010, Quan's campaign released "Block by Block" (video below).

Monday, September 29, 2014

Why Can’t Tim Sbranti Learn the Art of Smeyesing?

Smeyesing--smiling with your eyes--is something
Tim Sbranti can't seem to do during this campaign.
ASSEMBLY | 16TH DISTRICT | If you place 16th Assembly District candidate Tim Sbranti in the mayor’s seat during Dublin City Council meetings you will see a gregarious young politician running the hearing with the energy of a late night talk show host. If you know Sbranti is a big fan of high school football in the Tri-Valley and even provides energetic color commentary of games on local cable, it becomes doubly odd to see the dour, low-energy Sbranti that shows up for candidates forums over much of this year.

As far back as last February—during the primary—Sbranti seemed to disappear when appearing at the same table as his fellow Democratic opponents, primarily Steve Glazer. The lone Republican in the primary—Catharine Baker—never appeared with the group of Democrats until an endorsement meeting with the Bay Area News Group late in the campaign. Baker won the primary over Sbranti by eight points, but even with the field narrowed to two in this moderate Assembly district, Sbranti still doesn't look like he feels comfortable. At least, that's what his body language is showing.

At a forum in Walnut Creek last Wednesday the contrast was even more noticeable since Baker arrived at the event 25 minutes late. The forum began as scheduled and Sbranti was posed a series of questions while seated next to an empty chair. Sbranti capably answered the questions, but with some of the same lack of passion seen before. Granted, one of the main topics was high-speed rail.

Sbranti said he supports the transportation proposal. However, he added, “Without private investment the system cannot go.” He also backs BART’s planned expansion to Livermore, saying he wants to mimic the growth that followed BART to Dublin. In addition, both BART and high-speed rail running through the spine of the state will encourage retail and housing growth along the train’s path, said Sbranti.

Later, when Baker arrived at the dais and took questions from the moderator—some new to both and a few residual queries the challenger had already answered—Sbranti looked completely disengaged. He stared blankly with a mixture of depression, melancholy and mild annoyance for long periods of time as Baker spoke. Sbranti also made few attempts to connect with the small, intimate audience.

Baker said one of the main distinctions between the candidates is high-speed rail, which she does not support. In fact, much of Baker’s rhetoric is rock-ribbed Republican ideology that seems almost retro in an era when the national party is routinely hung up on divisive social issues. One three occasions Wednesday evening Baker portrayed Sacramento as dysfunctional, while defaulting to support for local control. “Stop micro-managing our small businesses,” Baker said of job creation in the state. “Stop the spending spree,” she said later while admonishing the state when it comes to fiscal discipline.

Sbranti’s tepid performances may be a byproduct of a difficult Assembly district for Democrats to retain. No other race in the Greater Bay Area has a better chance of being flipped by Republicans than this one representing parts of the Tri Valley and Contra Costa County. In the sixteenth, voter registration only slightly favors Democrats. In addition, the district as a whole is solidly moderate. For Republicans, it also doesn’t hurt to have a first-time candidate like Baker who not only has a firm grasp of conservative ideology, but the look of a politician and the ability to act like the Alpha dog in this race.

Furthermore, most candidates forums are purposely devoid of confrontation, but that didn’t stop Baker from alluding to her Democratic opponent without using his name. In her closing, she argued against supporting “reinforcements for the status quo” and more pointedly challenged Sbranti’s decision not to reveal answers he may have offered on union questionnaires. The issue is a vestigial tail from Glazer's anti-union stance in the primary. Meanwhile, Sbranti sat through the attack like a long-time spouse merely trying to weather another night of mental abuse.

Nevertheless, the local Democratic Party’s are placing the effort to get Sbranti’s elected to the Assembly a top priority and he is the likely the front runner despite failing to master the art of smeyesing--smiling with your eyes--or, what voters might comprehend as a candidate acting like they want to be there.

Mike Honda Releases Warm, Comforting Television Commercial

CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | In the canon of 17th Congressional District campaign commercials, its filmography has been dominated by challenger Ro Khanna. But, on Monday, Rep. Mike Honda released his first commercial of the election season and it exudes warmth like a toffee nut latte on a cold fall morning.

The 30-second spot begins with Honda's grandfatherly voice swiftly covering his biography from Japanese-American internment camp to his resume in Congress. By contrast, Khanna has released a handful of campaign commercials. However, Khanna also had both the impetus to introduce himself to voters and the money to make it happen.

As for Honda's commercial, most local Democrats who know Honda will find the general thumbnail of Honda--the friendly, genial everyman portrayed here--is pretty accurate, especially the scenes of Honda hobnobbing with voters at its conclusion. Those kind of scenes typically feel staged (for example, this one). In this campaign ads they feel authentic.

Oakland Mayoral Candidate Vows to 'Intellectually Bitch Slap' City Council

Batman villain Bane and Oakland mayoral
candidate Peter Liu.
OAKLAND | MAYOR | At a education-themed forum last spring at Laney College, Oakland mayoral candidate Peter Liu, an Iraq War veteran and insurance broker, said a video game he created would solve all of Oakland’s problems. Every question posed to him involved a reference to the game. Assuredly, a nervous murmur could be heard in the auditorium.

Liu’s platform, posted online, also offered a detailed plan for lowering crime in the city. Give everyone a gun, blanket the city with video cameras and allow anyone with an Internet connection to view the video feeds within the safety of their home. Suffice to say, Liu has not be seen at forums lately. Nevertheless, in an answer to his plans work in the future with the City Council provided by the candidate to oaklandmayor2014.com, a website created by Oakland developer Phil Tagami, Liu sounded more like Bane, the villain from The Dark Night Rises than a person willing to collaborate.

Liu said he will be no friend to the “corrupted and incompetent” City Council. “I am there to instill fear in the council, with watchful eyes like a cat watching blind mice play. When I pierce their deception, corruption, and/or bribery that is when I pounce. They’ll know me as Overseer Liu. To achieve my goals, if any councilmember obstructs me in any way that is unreasonable, I’ll intellectually bitch slap them until they go home crying. Even a grown man will have thousand tears drip like piss. I’ll video tape it in HD with my brand new cell phone holding it ten inches from their forehead then post it on YouTube.”

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Are The Gods On Ro's Side Now?

It remains to be seen whether the leaked emails reported this week from Rep. Mike Honda congressional office and hinting at unethical behavior will become newsworthy/ Honda's challenger, Ro Khanna, is surely making political hay out of it and will continue to do so from here to Nov. 4.

But, the San Jose Inside article does represent the kind of campaign serendipity that suggests to a candidate the electoral gods might be on their side. Khanna’s team said they had no inkling about the emails that show Honda’s congressional staff may been dangling spots to potential campaign donors for an event hosted by the U.S. State Department last year in Santa Clara. That is, not until the story published last Wednesday was about to be put to bed last Monday. Khanna’s campaign declined to comment for the alt-weekly article, but later staged a press conference to highlight his supporters had filed an official ethics complaint.

What likely occurred is the source holding the emails contacted San Jose Inside because it knew the newspaper and the reporter, Josh Koehn, had previously written less-than-positive stories on Honda. Whether the allegation has enough substance to affect the Honda’s re-election is probably low. After more than a decade in Washington Honda is hardly the face of Beltway corruption. Moreover, congressional offices straddle the line between crossing over to the re-election campaign all the time. At this point, the allegations are akin to driving 75 mph in a 65 mph zone and the level of deceit is quite low. In addition, the emails clearly show they were communicating how far is too far. However, the laws of gravity do not apply to political campaigns and perception is almost as good as reality.

Heading into the make-or-break televised debate on Oct. 6, Khanna has been given two giant hammers to wield that night. One offers reasonable doubt for undecided voters and another allows him to mock Honda’s tech cred, or, lack thereof. If Khanna merely strings together these words: Congress, unethical behavior, State Department and Honda, it conveys some sort of Watergate deceit going on in Honda’s office. Second, the fun tidbit in the San Jose Inside article showing Honda needed help to hook up his Netflix account to his Apple TV is a rib-tickling scene for Silicon Valley nerds who think the Big Bang Theory is the funniest 30 minutes of their life. Overall, if this campaign finance story becomes a steady stream of bad press for Honda, it will be an interesting October in the South Bay. What Khanna wants regular voters in the 17th District to say and, conversely, what Honda don't want them to utter is the word "again," as in again?!
Can you hear me now?: Assemblyman
Bill Quirk
HERE AND THERE If Rep. Mike Honda is able to win re-election he will have done it without a single publication in the South Bay giving him a journalistic fair shake. Only in San Jose, it seems, is the alternative newspaper going after a progressive candidate...San Leandro mayoral candidate Dan Dillman received a few guffaws a few weeks back when he told members of the city's African American business group that he was black. Dillman said it with a sly grin, but afterwards more than a few rolled their eyes at the assertion...Months ago in Hayward's 20th Assembly District race, Republican challenger Jaime Patino charged Assemblymember Bill Quirk with receiving answers to questions posed at a candidates forum through a listening device. It turns out, at times, Quirk uses a hearing aid. At a recent forum in Fremont, Quirk used two hearing aids and joked with Patino about it. Patino responded by saying, "Can you hear me?"...Interesting factoid in Berkeley's 15th Assembly District: If Tony Thurmond is able to beat fellow Democrat Elizabeth Echols, he will be the first black member of the Legislature north of Los Angeles since Oakland Assemblymember Sandre Swanson was termed out in 2012...A candidate named Dale Price is running for a seat on the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District. His red signs litter the San Ramon suburbs and feature one ill-advised artistic touch. Playing off his surname, the signs are designed like price tags, as in, for how can this politician be bought?...Vote-by-mail ballots go out next Monday, Oct. 6, so don't forget to vote and remember to add correct postage!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Oakland City Council Amends Campaign Law; Makes No Mention of Kaplan

OAKLAND | CITY COUNCIL | There are limits to how much a candidate for office in Oakland can accept from an individual donor. It’s why the most common dollar amount on campaign finance reports is $700. However, until a loophole was closed by the Oakland City Council Tuesday night, candidates opening committees to support city ballot measures enjoyed no limits on the amount of cash they could raise.

The varying rules have allowed some candidates to utilize the unfettered amount of money heading to ballot committees to fatten their own campaign war chests. Former State Pro Tem Don Perata, who represented Oakland in Sacramento and ran for mayor in 2010, was often accused of exploiting this loophole.

Before the city council approved an amendment to its campaign finance laws to put them in line with state regulations, Council President Pat Kernighan referenced Perata’s proclivity for exploiting the loophole, but not by name. “There was an East Bay official known for doing this,” said Kernighan as she introduced the amendment.

Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan was also accused of exploiting the loophole during her run for mayor in 2010. Reports in June alleged Kaplan used funds to pay some of her mayoral campaign staff from a committee supporting Measure F in Oakland. Kaplan later closed the committee. In addition, an assistant city attorney said Tuesday, approval of the amendment could not be applied retro-actively. Previously, the city’s Public Ethics Committee unanimously approved the amendment as did an Oakland City Council committee.

Shortly after the allegations against Kaplan were made public, they were brought to the attention of the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission. Initially, the FPPC declined to begin an investigation, but said it would reexamine the claim after receiving additional information.

The timing of the amendment has elements of being politically-driven. Kaplan is now viewed as the frontrunner for mayor this November to unseat Mayor Jean Quan. Councilmember Libby Schaaf, Kaplan’s colleague on the City Council, is also a strong candidate for mayor. However, Kaplan’s name, nor references to the campaign finance allegations were broached Tuesday night.

Emails May Show Honda's Congressional Office Committed Campaign Violations

Rep. Mike Honda
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Rep. Mike Honda’s congressional staff may have coordinated with the representative’s re-election campaign last year over a list of potential invitees to a U.S. State Department function, according to San Jose Inside. The emails also suggest the campaign viewed the potential list of South Asian businessman as potential donors to Honda's campaign.

The batch of emails obtained by the paper from a source who previously worked for Honda was sent in February 2013—a month before Ro Khanna officially announced his candidacy. House rules forbid members from coordinating campaign-related business with congressional duties.

The allegations revolve around a State Department roundtable Feb. 23, 2013 featuring a senior advisor in its South and Central Asian Bureau, according to the report. Emails between Honda’s congressional chief of staff and his then-campaign manager suggest they were attempting to choose potential South Asian donors who had made political contributions in the past be invited to the event.

At the time of the emails, Khanna’s entrance into the race was well-documented, if not based solely on an already swollen campaign war chest. The Honda campaign’s interests in attracting South Asian donors was likely a bid to dampen Khanna’s support. Khanna is of South Asian descent.

None of the emails, however, show Honda personally had any interaction or knowledge of potential coordination between his two offices.

On an embarrassing note, emails report also bolster a long-running narrative offered by Khanna regarding Honda’s knowledge of the district’s dominant business sector—the tech industry. “[Mike Honda needs to activate his Netflix account and then you need to input that on his Apple TV and show him how to use his Apple TV. Yes, that’s a requesting [bordering on] personal, but such is life.”

Not only is using your paid staff to run personal errands against House rules, it’s also generally unethical at any place of employment. Moreover, news of the congressman who represents a district containing some of the world's most important high-tech companies having difficulty with the most rudimentary of technological tasks may pose a problem for Honda in terms of optics over the last six weeks of the campaign.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Oakland's Desley Brooks Facing Tough Re-Election Rhetoric

Councilmember Desley Brooks at a forum last
month in Oakland.
OAKLAND | CITY COUNCIL | When Michael Johnson, a little-known challenger to Oakland city Councilmember Desley Brooks, began telling audiences this summer that "District Six is an economic donut hole that exists in Oakland," his comment caught some people's attention not only because of its candor, but because of the fact that the Oakland healthcare professional and associate pastor was attempting to play hardball with one of the city's toughest politicians.

But Johnson has not been playing rough all by himself. The other two challengers to Brooks in this year's election — Shereda Nosakhare and James Moore — have also targeted the incumbent unmercifully, describing her twelve years in office as a failure.

And some of the criticisms have been difficult to refute. Economic development has hopped, skipped, and jumped over Brooks' East Oakland district, substantial parts of the area are still overrun with crime, and not a single large grocery store exists in the area. In fact, it was the lack of fresh produce and groceries that prompted Johnson's "donut hole" comment. He later told an environmental group that the absence of a grocery stores suggests a "negligible quality of life" in District Six and accused Brooks of inaction. Uncharacteristically, Brooks has mostly refrained from returning fire against her opponents...


Development, Traffic Highlight Stark Contrasts in Alameda’s Mayor’s Race

Alameda school board member Trish Spencer,
Mayor Marie Gilmore.
ALAMEDA | MAYOR | Housing is a hot-button issue in many Bay Area communities. In Alameda, the traditionally insular island city, has a different variation on the topic—not only is the specter of rising home and rent prices becoming more apparent, the promise of Alameda Point--with more development and more traffic is highlighting distinct differences between the two candidates running for mayor.

In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find another race this fall offering a more contrasting platform than those between the campaigns of Mayor Marie Gilmore and Alameda school board member Trish Spencer. Gilmore is for developing Alameda Point, the large parcel that once housed the Alameda Naval Air Base a generation ago. Last year, the Navy transferred the deed to the land to the city at no-cost. Spencer wants to stanch development in general on the island because of growing traffic concerns in Alameda. Parks and recreation would better benefit all Alamedans, she said Sept. 18, at a candidates forum.

“We know we’ve got beautiful property there,” said Spencer, of Alameda Point. “We know there is housing developers that want to come here and build, build, build. We know that. Is that best for Alamedans? No. Many of us do not want that.” Spencer said the city should not focus on adding retailer who often offered low-wages to employees, but higher paid businesses in burgeoning green tech industries.

“You can’t run a city on a wish. You have to have plan for people to discuss,” countered Gilmore, who was elected in 2010. She agrees traffic is, indeed, a nagging problem in Alameda. “It’s not just an Alameda problem unfortunately,” she added. City studies show trip times through the Webster Tube connecting Alameda and Oakland have decreased since Navy’s departure, she said. “Then, why are we stuck in traffic?” asked Gilmore. “Because it’s a regional issue.” Instead, expanded bus services and the growth of the island’s ferry system is part of the plan to alleviate traffic, said Gilmore before reiterating, “Slowing development down is not a solution, it’s not a plan.”

Spencer later scoffed that more buses will fix the problem. More development will only add to the problem, she said. “That is why I’m running. We have housing development that is occurring way faster than any real solutions to address the transportation issue,” said Spencer. It should have been address before developments were entitled, she continued. “You can’t do this backwards. You can’t put the cart in front of the horse and then hand it to us citizens and say, ‘Now, you solve it.’ No. That’s backwards and we all know that.”

Monday, September 22, 2014

Budget Crisis Averted in San Leandro After Oakland Garbage Compromise

San Leandro officials down in the dumps
about Oakland's garbage contract are now
relieved by news of a compromise.
SAN LEANDRO | CITY COUNCIL | The substantial $500,000 annual hit San Leandro's general fund would have suffered following Oakland's decision in July to exclude Waste Management's from its next zero waste contract appears to have been averted.

In an article, first reported Thursday by the East Bay Express, Oakland city officials are nearing a compromise solution to end the growing controversy that followed the City Council awarding Oakland-based California Waste Solutions (CWS) a 10-year, $1 billion bid over Waste Management, which, subsequently, filed a lawsuit against Oakland. If a new deal giving Waste Management the right to pick up Oakland's garbage and allowing CWS to be the city's sole recycler is approved, some in San Leandro city government will exhale a huge sigh of relief.

As reported last month, Oakland's decision inadvertently cost San Leandro fees paid by Waste Management to the city at its Davis Street Transfer Station. A portion of the fees, totaling around $500,000 annual could have been lost, along with over $1 million in permit fees San Leandro was expecting from a $100 million expansion of the transfer station. Infamously, San Leandro Vice Mayor Benny Lee unknowingly advocated against his city interest when he told Oakland city council members to select CWS, instead of Waste Management. In retrospect, many at San Leandro City Hall were unaware or unprepared for the potential loss of revenue.

In addition, the San Leandro City Council was again left in the dark earlier this week about the potential for a compromise in Oakland. San Leandro Councilmember Jim Prola advocated during a council meeting Monday night to schedule a resolution calling for the Oakland City Council to re-open negotiations with Waste Management. Prola suggested using language contained in a petition posted on Change.org.

"I don't think it's a good idea to fight with electeds in Oakland," countered Councilmember Pauline Cutter, who added, "although I think they were wrong." However, City Manager Chris Zapata, who, himself erred in sending a letter advocating for the city to Oakalnd officials just hours before it deliberated July 30, said he was scheduled to meet with Waste Management officials the next day.

"If you want to keep your powder dry for another meeting, that would be an advisable course of action," said Zapata and the resolution was moth-balled. By Thursday morning, a possible deal was announced potentially ending the trash talk in Oakland and neighboring San Leandro.

How Much Campaign Cash is Flowing From Outside Oakland? Don't Bother. The Candidates Won't Know

Oakland mayoral candidates at forum in May.
OAKLAND | MAYOR | An excellent source for tracking the influence of money in Oakland’s mayoral race came online last month allowing voters to easily view the amount of campaign contributions each of the 15 candidates for mayor, along with where the money is flowing from in Oakland and by whom. The site, Open Disclosure Oakland, also allows you to better gauge how much of the money is coming from out-of-town sources. Surprisingly, it might be wise for most of the candidates to check out the site before heading to candidate’s forums. At one such event last month at Temple Sinai, nine of the candidates were put on the spot: name the percentage of donations coming from outside of Oakland. None of them got it right.

Mayor Jean Quan said she didn’t know, but added, “Probably less than half.” It’s actually a little more than half of her contributions come from outsiders. City Auditor Courtney Ruby didn’t know. It’s actually more than 55 percent from outside of Oakland, according to Open Oakland. Councilmember Libby Schaaf wasn’t sure, either, but as she was speaking a campaign staffer texted her that 44 percent of her donations came from outside of Oakland. Schaaf explained: “You will see that I went to college in Florida, I went to law school in Los Angeles and all my in-laws live on the East Coast.” But, Open Oakland pegs the number at more than half from outsiders.

When the question was first posed by a member of the Greater Metropolitan Democratic Club August 25, Parker quickly moved to dismiss the inquiry and, instead, urged audience members to view them online. Another candidate, Said Karamooz, disagreed. There might be a reason for Parker’s ambivalence since his percentage of out-of-town money is one of the highest in the race at nearly 70 percent. However, Parker offered the percentage of Oaklanders donating to his campaign is around 40 percent and around 60 percent, if you take into account cash from neighboring cities.

Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan’s recollection of where her campaign’s money is coming from is equally fuzzy. “A majority of my contributions are from within Oakland,” said Kaplan, who then repeated the sentence. Conversely, the figure from Oaklander is just over 40 percent, according to Open Oakland. When the moderator asked the question again, Kaplan then said the figure is around 60 percent come from Oakland. Dan Siegel was also way off in his recollection of how much of his contributions came from outsiders. “Maybe 10 percent, maybe 15 percent,” said Siegel. More accurately, nearly three-fourths of his money comes from outside of city limits, according to Open Oakland.

Later, Joe Tuman actually promoted the Open Oakland website himself and he has good reason. With over 57 percent of his contributions from within the city, Tuman’s total represents the largest home-grown accounting of campaign cash.. “I’m really happy to talk about my percentage,” said Tuman, a political science instructor at San Francisco State, who then shifted to lecture mode. “The assumption is always if a person willing to give you money, they will vote for you,” said Tuman. “If you have to go out of town to raise half of your money, then that means the people giving that money cannot vote for you.”

Karamooz, a technology expert who is running for mayor on a principled platform roughly based on criticizing the unholy influenced of special interests money in politics, added, “People from outside should not be able to influence and impact our lives.” In addition, said Karamooz, “As of right now, there are people who are waiting to see who is going to emerge as a front runner and they will donate to that person’s campaign irrespective of that person’s priorities, backbone and just so the day after the election they can own that person.”

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Inside the Hit Piece Last Summer Against Rebecca Kaplan

In late June, just as Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan was beginning her mayoral campaign, there came news of a particularly damning article in the Oakland Tribune alleging campaign finance rules may have been broken by her mayoral campaigns, this year and in 2010. The allegation Kaplan used money from a committee created to support a citywide transportation measure to pay the salary of some staffers on her mayoral campaign, at first, appeared to have had legs and might even bring an embarrassing fine from the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). Afterwards, the FPPC chose not to investigate the complaint. However, last month it sent the Kaplan campaign notice it had received new, unspecified information regarding the allegation. There may still be nothing to the claim, but how did the story first surfaced and who was behind it seeing the light of day?

Rebecca Kaplan announcing her run for Oakland 
mayor last June. PHOTO/Steven Tavares
In the weeks preceding the article, pressure was building over the issue from within the Oakland City Council, also referenced in the article, and led by Council President Pat Kernighan and Councilmember Libby Schaaf, who like Kaplan, is a strong mayoral candidate this fall. In fact, the issue of Kaplan’s Measure F account had been circulated by Schaaf’s campaign since, at least April, according to sources. The Tribune's Matthew Artz was offered the story, in addition to San Francisco Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson and others.

Schaaf's campaign may have anticipated springing the story on the public through the press in order to coincide with Kaplan’s campaign announcement or even a few days before as an attempt to dissuade her from entering the race. Instead, Kaplan may have unwittingly thrown Schaaf's timing off when she made the announcement in early-June on a downtrodden street corner in East Oakland. Two weeks later, the Tribune story was published. But, it wasn't an example of journalistic sleuthing, by any means, but a good-old fashioned political attack. Until now, Schaaf has been able to sidestep any speculation it was her campaign behind the hit.

One of the political hit man in the Measure F story are two former Kaplan staff members who now support Schaaf's campaign. Conspicuously buried in the Tribune article is Jonathan Bair, who worked for Kaplan’s mayoral campaign and worked on Measure F only after the November election. Bair's inclusion in the article seems superfluous unless you know it was him, and another former Kaplan campaign staffer named Scott Hawkins (also in the Trib article), who was proffering information on Kaplan. Bair told The Citizen last month he is not affiliated with Schaaf's campaign. But, just days after publication of the article, Bair and Hawkins, both communication consultants, were putting their money where their mouth is. Bair contributed $100 of his $300 total in donations to Schaaf's campaign on June 30, a week after Hawkins added $150 to Schaaf’s campaign ledger on June 22, according to finance records.
Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore
AVOIDING THE QUESTIONS Do you know what is not a good look for a candidate? Evasion, or, the perception of publicly dodging a question. Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore is up for re-election. She’s also a lawyer and on Thursday night at a candidates forum, she and other members of the Island’s powerful firefighters’ union slate of candidates unleashed a novel trick for evading difficult questions. Say you can’t answer a question because you might one day be asked to decide its merits, if elected to the Council. Gilmore, Councilmember Stewart Chen and council candidate Jim Oddie all used variations of the gambit to avoid answering some of Alameda’s toughest questions. Theoretically, a candidate could employ this legal-sounding method to avoid answering every thorny question. Afterwards, in an interview, Gilmore said she wants to keep an open mind on issues such as the proposed replacement of the popular Harbor Bay Club with new homes. Meanwhile, another well-worn strategy was also used to avoid a question on renters’ rights in Alameda: just say you need more time and information to make a decision.
Carole Rogers
TRIUMPHANT RETURN? Legitimately there is about three people who can rightfully boast they saved San Leandro Hospital from closure last year. Unequivocally, one of those people would be former Eden Township Healthcare District board member Carole Rogers. She resigned earlier this year for a move to Palm Springs. Now, the retired registered nurse is hoping for a return to public service--this time at SoCal’s Desert Healthcare District. Rogers is running for a seat on the district’s board of directors this November and the local hospital provider, Tenet Healthcare, better be on its toes if she is elected. Just ask Sutter Health, which tried to close San Leandro Hospital in 2009 and would have been successful in doing so, if Rogers had not lead the charge to stop them. In fact, during my five years of covering politics in the East Bay, no other public official has come close to showing more courage and determination for the weakest among us than Rogers and her fight for that hospital. In a perfect world, there should be a statue of Rogers in front of San Leandro Hospital.
Oakland's Dana King gets an A for effort.
HERE AND THERE Even though experts continually say the chances of the Ebola virus wreaking havoc in the U.S. is very small, that isn’t stopping Rep.Eric Swalwell from trying to scare constituents in the East Bay. In 9/11 fashion, he tweeted Monday, “Congress should act on #Ebola aid b/c people in Africa are in need. And it's only a 10 hour airplane ride from our shore.” Yikes!…No surprise here that AC Transit At-Large board member Joel Young ditched a League of Women Voters forum last week. Although there is probably no reason for the incumbent to engage his opponents in the race, Young also found it difficult to find time to debate during his infamous run two years ago for the 18th Assembly District...

Not many people know Rebecca Kaplan, the frontrunner, according to polls, in the big Oakland mayor’s race spent a good portion of her formative years in Toronto, which may account for why she seems like such a nice person, eh…Polls in Oakland say former KPIX anchor Dana King has a very good shot at winning election to the City Council. She’s a total political novice, but give her credit for this: even when the campaign event/forum is for another race, King is often in attendance--soaking it all in…Don’t like ranked-choice voting? Then here’s how you wish for its demise after this year. Imagine the hackles that would be heard in Oakland if Mayor Jean Quan wins re-election in a similar come-from-behind scenario to four years ago? Imagine if San Leandro, which also uses RCV, somehow elects a mayoral candidate in Dan Dillman, who spent over two months in jail this summer? Either scenario, but especially the first, would mean curtains for RCV in the East Bay...Meanwhile, Dillman has been all over the news getting his name out there, while his two opponents from the City Council are doing a very San Leandro thing—running for office as if it were a secret.

Friday, September 19, 2014

From Kaplan to Ruby, Who is Running the Best Campaigns for Oakland Mayor?

Oakland mayoral candidate Dan Siegel is a progressive darling, but his message may not be resonating among all voters. However, even if unsuccessful, his campaign has brought change. PHOTO/Steven Tavares
OAKLAND | MAYOR | In an interview last week, Oakland mayoral candidate Bryan Parker reacted to polling that placed Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan as the frontrunner in the race by saying that “there’s a lot of football yet to be played” before the election is won. After months of hard work on the campaign trail, said Parker, these are the dog days of the campaign, and in a tight race, the final result may hinge on which candidate wants it the most.

He made a good point, and there are already signs that some candidates are experiencing a second wind of enthusiasm, while others look as if they need a recharge. Here are some of my impressions of the campaigns being run by the top candidates in the race.

Which of the seven front runners for Oakland mayor are running the best, so-so, and worst campaigns this season?


Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Most Interesting Man in the East Bay

Not far from where this photo was taken, San Leandro mayoral candidate Dan Dillman confronted Alameda County Sherrif's deputies in 2010. He spent over two month in jail for the act this summer. 
PHOTO/Steven Tavares
SAN LEANDRO | MAYOR | Dan Dillman is one of San Leandro's most charismatic businessmen. In recent years, he has reinvigorated the crumbling Bal Theater on East 14th Street with live shows and quirky film festivals. R&B headliner Bobby Brown played the Bal last New Year's Eve, and comedians George Lopez and Dana Carvey have performed at the theater as well. Dillman, however, is also interested in politics, and is running for the open mayor's seat in San Leandro this fall. Yet despite his entertainment business successes, he faces an uphill battle: While his opponents were readying their mayoral campaigns this summer, Dillman was serving 69 days in Santa Rita Jail for assaulting two plain-clothed Alameda County Sheriff's deputies in front of his theater in 2010.

Although Dillman is considered a long shot this November, he nonetheless may become an important player in the mayor's race because of ranked-choice voting. Dillman's supporters could end up deciding San Leandro's next mayor, depending on whom they list second and third on their ballots. "It is going to have an effect on the race," said Pauline Cutter, a San Leandro councilmember, who is also a candidate for mayor. "Dan is going to get those who are dissatisfied with how things are going in San Leandro."


Monday, September 15, 2014

Souza Says She’ll Take Credit for Cassidy Not Running for Mayor

San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy, 
Councilmember Diana Souza.
SAN LEANDRO | MAYOR | Even before San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy took office in 2010 he had alienated the city’s police officers, city employees, progressives, and members of the Alameda County Democratic Party, just to name a few important constituencies.

After moving into the mayor’s office—which he subsequently rarely inhabited—there was no other member of the council who pushed back at Cassidy’ bullying ways than Councilmember Diana Souza, one of three candidates to replace him this November.

Last Thursday night, following a candidates forum at the San Leandro Library, Souza said numerous references to her ability to forge relationships is not a slight aimed at Cassidy, who is not seeking re-election. Souza said she was planning to run for mayor even before Cassidy’s announcement. “Stephen is not in the race. I’m running, because I was going to run, regardless.”

However, she suggested her campaign may have dissuaded him from running for re-election.

Souza, who is termed out this fall after eight years on the City Council said she was surprised by Cassidy’s announcement last May. “I had no clue, but I’ll take credit for him dropping out,” Souza said with a chuckle.

But, when asked to clarify, she became serious and added, “Because in his comments, he knew it was going to be a vigorous campaign. If he would have been unopposed, would he have stayed? I don’t know?”

Alameda County Dems Endorse Tam Over Incumbent BART Director Raburn

Lena Tam
ALAMEDA COUNTY | DEMOCRATS | BART Board of Director Robert Raburn often eschews driving automobiles for public transportation and his bicycle. But, when it comes to endorsing his re-election to the board following the divisive BART strike of last year, Alameda County Democrats told him Saturday to take a hike, instead.

In the most notable endorsement handed out Saturday by the local Democratic Party, it chose to back the candidacy of Alameda Councilmember Lena Tam over Raburn, whose support for BART management's strong stance against workers during last year's contentious strike deeply angered progressives and labor leaders. Tam is termed out of office in Alameda and her reputation with labor is strong.

In Oakland, the Alameda Democratic Party made no recommendation for mayor, nor did they support a candidate in Councilmember Desley Brooks' race in District 6. Peralta Community College Trustee Abel Guillen won the endorsement in District 2, as did Anne Campbell Washington in District 6. The party also supports school board candidates Aimee Eng, Karl Debro and Shanthi Gonzales, along with Brenda Roberts for city auditor.

In San Leandro, Councilmember Pauline Cutter is the Alameda County Democratic Party's choice for mayor as is, Corina Lopez in the District 5 City Council race and newcomer Victor Aguilar in District 3. The party made no recommendation in District 1.

Labor's strength in Alameda was also evident with the endorsement of Mayor Marie Gilmore for re-election, in addition to Councilmember Stewart Chen and Jim Oddie for the City Council. All three, along with Tam, are strongly supported by the Island's powerful firefighters' union.

Of the 30 local referendums discussed by party leaders, it voted to support 28, including Berkeley's Measure D (sugary drink tax), Oakland's Measure Z (reauthorization of its public safety parcel tax); Measure FF (minimum wage wage increase to $12.25/hour) and Alameda County's transportation tax, Measure BB.

Below is the full list of endorsements approved Saturday by the Alameda County Democratic Party:
Alameda County Superintendent of Schools - Karen Monroe
Alameda Mayor - Hon. Marie L. Gilmore
Alameda Councilmember - Hon. Stewart Chen, Jim Oddie
Berkeley Auditor - Hon. Ann-Marie Hogan
Berkeley Councilmember - District 4, Hon. Jesse Arreguin; District 8, Lori Droste
Berkeley Rent Stab. Bd. Comm. - James Chang, Paola Laverde-Levine
Dublin Mayor - Kasie Hildenbrand
Dublin Councilmember - Hon. Don Biddle, Hon. Abe Gupta
Emeryville Councilmember - Scott Donahue, Dianne Martinez
Fremont Councilmember - Hon. Raj Salwan, David Bonaccorsi
Livermore Mayor - Hon. John Marchand
Newark Mayor - Hon. Alan Nagy
Newark Councilmember - Mike Bucci, Francisco Preciado
Oakland Auditor - Brenda Roberts
Oakland Councilmember - District 2, Hon. Abel Guillen; District 4, Hon. Anne Campbell Washington
Pleasanton Councilmember - Olivia Sanwong
San Leandro Mayor - Hon. Pauline Russo Cutter
San Leandro Councilmember - District 3, Victor Aguilar; District 5, Hon. Corina Lopez
Union City Councilmember - Hon. Emily Duncan, Hon. Pat D. Gacoscos, Kashmir Singh Shahi
Chabot-Las Positas CCD Trustee - Area 2, Hon. Isobel F. Dvorsky
Ohlone CCD Trustee - Area 1, Hon. Vivien Larsen; Area 2, Janet Giovannini-Hill; Area 2 (short
term), Hon. Ishan Shah
Peralta CCD Trustee - Area 3, Hon. Linda L. Handy; Area 5, Hon. William Riley
Alameda USD Director - Hon. Michael McMahon, Solana HenneberryBerkeley USD Director - Hon. Joshua Daniels, Hon. Karen Hemphill, Hon. Julie Sinai
Castro Valley USD Director - Hon. Janice Friesen, Hon. Gary Howard
Dublin USD Director - Hon. Megan Rouse
Emery USD Director - Hon. John Affeldt, Hon. Miguel Dwin, Hon. Christian Patz
Fremont USD Director - Dax Choksi, Moina Shaiq
Hayward USD Director - Hon. Lisa G. Brunner, Hon. William L. McGee
New Haven USD Director - Hon. Sarabjit Kaur Cheema, Lance Nishihira
Newark USD Director - Hon. Nancy Thomas, Christopher Wecks
Oakland USD Director - District 2, Aimee Eng; District. 4, Karl Debro; District 6, Shanthi
Pleasanton USD Director - Hon. Jeff Bowser, Hon. Joan Laursen
San Leandro USD Director - District 2, Lance James; District 4 - Leo Sheridan; At-Large (short
term), Evelyn Gonzalez
San Lorenzo USD Director - Janet Zamudio, Steven Kirk
A.C. Transit District Director - Ward 3, Hon. Elsa Ortiz; Ward 4, Hon. Mark Williams; Ward 5,
Kewal Singh
Alameda County Water District Director - Hon. Paul Sethy
BART Director - District 4, Hon. Lena Tam
Castro Valley San District Director - John Maher
City of Alameda Healthcare District Director - Hon. Tracy Jensen, Jim Meyers
East Bay MUD Director - Ward 3, Marguerite Young; Ward 4, Hon. Andy Katz
East Bay Reg. Park District Director - Ward 3, Hon. Dennis Waespi; Ward 5, Hon. Ayn
Hayward Area Recreation & Park District Director - Hon. Paul Hodges, Jr.
Oro Loma Sanitary District Director - Shelia Young

Measure I Alameda USD School Renovation & Construction Bond YES
Measure LL Albany USD Temporary Parcel Tax for Education YES
Measure K Emery USD Education Parcel Tax Renewal YES
Measure L Hayward USD School Modernization & Renovation Bond YES
Measure M New Haven USD School Facilities Bond YES
Measure N Oakland USD Temporary Parcel Tax for Education YES
Measure BB Alameda County Transportation Sales Tax YES
Measure D City of Berkeley Sugary Drinks Tax YES
Measure F City of Berkeley Community Parks Tax Amendment YES
Measure O City of Berkeley Conform City Charter to Elections Code YES
Measure P City of Berkeley Constitution Amendment Advisory Measure YES
Measure Q City of Berkeley Part-Time Work Advisory Measure YES
Measure R City of Berkeley Downtown Plan Amendments NO
Measure S City of Berkeley City Council District Boundaries YES
Measure T City of Dublin Doolan Canyon Annexation NO
Measure U City of Emeryville Adopt City Charter YES
Measure V City of Emeryville Real Property Transfer Tax YES
Measure W City of Livermore Restrict Mayor & Council Compensation YES
Measure X City of Livermore Restrict Mayor & Council Health Benefits YES
Measure Y City of Newark Extend & Reduce Rate of Utility Users Tax YES
Measure Z City of Oakland Extend Public Safety Parking & Parcel Tax YES
Measure CC City of Oakland Public Ethics Comm. Charter Amendment YES
Measure DD City of Oakland Redistricting Comm. Charter Amendment YES
Measure EE City of Oakland Retirement System Charter Amendment YES
Measure FF City of Oakland Establish Minimum Wage YES
Measure GG City of Piedmont Election Date Charter Amendment YES
Measure HH City of San Leandro Extend Local Services Sales Tax YES
Measure II City of San Leandro Vice Mayor Election Charter Amendment YES
Measure JJ City of Union City Extend Essential Services Sales Tax YES
Measure KK City of Union City Hillside & General Plan Amendments YES

Mike Honda Condemns NFL Commish for Handling of Domestic Violence Incidents

Rep. Mike Honda
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Rep. Mike Honda said he was “shocked and saddened” by the handling of a number of football players accused of domestic violence against by the National Football League and Commissioner Roger Goodell in recent weeks.

“Commissioner Goodell’s inaction has damaged the integrity of the NFL and, most importantly, sent a dangerous message to players and fans across America that committing a horrific act of violence will result in little to no penalty,” Honda said Friday in a statement.

Earlier in the week, a graphic video of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice striking his then-girlfriend was released by TMZ and triggered his release from the team and uproar across the country. San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers players were also alleged to have committed violent acts against women recently. The NFL has also been criticized for allowing the suspected offenders to continue playing games.

“I am calling on the NFL to immediately institute a zero-tolerance policy and send the right message to NFL players, and all Americans, that if a player violently assault a woman, he will lose his privilege to play football,” said Honda.

Honda’s condemnation of the NFL and Goodell was part of a letter sent to the league office on Friday by 20 female members of Congress, including California U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. In addition, to calling for a zero-tolerance policy toward domestic violence, the letter also references the 20th anniversary of the landmark passage of the Violence Against Women Act.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Proxy War for Mayor in San Leandro

San Leandro mayoral candidates, Councilmember Diana Souza, Dan Dillman and Councilmember Pauline Cutter, at a forum Sept. 11 at the San Leandro Main Library. PHOTO/Steven Tavares
SAN LEANDRO | MAYOR | San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy decided earlier this year that one term in office was enough, but that doesn’t mean his large frame isn’t casting a shadow over the campaign to replace him

San Leandro mayoral candidates Diana Souza and Dan Dillman say the city needs a change in direction. Both make sly references to Cassidy’s complicated four years of corrosive division and rampant absenteeism at City Hall. However, almost like the de facto incumbent, another candidate, Pauline Cutter wants to build upon the last four years of growth in San Leandro, in a race likely to be more of referendum on Cassidy’s leadership than the qualifications of the three candidates.

Councilmember Pauline Cutter addressing a
candidates forum last week in San Leandro.
PHOTO/Steven Tavares
“The mayor should be the voice of the city," Councilmember Souza said at a candidates forum Sept. 11, “the first among the leaders of the city.” She added, the mayor should collaborate with colleagues and members of the community and "not be exclusive of anybody in the conversation.”

The comments appeared to be a direct indictment of Cassidy. No council member publicly sparred with Cassidy more than Souza, who often charged him with belittling council members and talking over their individual concerns. However, afterwards, Souza said repeated references Thursday night to building relationship had nothing to do with Cassidy. Earlier, she had credited her election to the City Council in 2006 as the result of decades of building relationships in San Leandro.

Dillman, the charismatic owner of San Leandro’s Bal Theater, followed Souza with a similar tone. “I think we need leadership that is proactive and promoting the city,” he said, while proclaiming, “You have a friend at City Hall” and “If you elect Dan Dillman as your mayor, that’s real change. That’s when you know something magical has happened in this city.”

Dillman said he would reverse two council decision made during Cassidy’s term that limits access to government and transparency by reinstituting council committee hearings and more expansive descriptions of public meeting transcripts. “You’re option to advocate for your position is in the committee,” said Dillman. “With those gone, your only option is to go to a City Council meeting when they’re about to vote.”

Councilmember Cutter, who, like Souza, approved the discontinuation of committees and reduced minute two years ago, said Thursday, she agrees with Dillman. “I don’t think it works as well,” said Cutter. “We need to vet things out in committee, you need to be able to talk things over and get input from the community.”

Cutter, a preschool teacher who spent 12 years on the San Leandro school board before winning election to the council in 2010, wants to build upon the quick rise from the Great Recession to a city whose technology credentials, primarily with its downtown fiber-optic loop, has become the envy of its neighbors in the East Bay. In addition, Cutter views the downtrodden areas in and around Bayfair Mall as an opportunity to build upon. San Leandro also needs to take advantage of development at the Marina and decide whether a portion of the city’s industrial areas can be transformed into destination areas for workers and residents.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Three East Bay Races Where Candidates Need to Better Sing Their Songs

We are now less than two months away from Election Day. For some campaigns it’s put up or shut up. Aside from a bombshell that likely will not happen, narratives need to be developed not sooner than later, but now. Free of charge, here are some stories that some campaign's need to start telling:

RO KHANNA Sometime in the summer Khanna’s campaign decided it would focus more generously on moderate and conservative voters in Fremont and the South Bay. Highlighting the endorsement of San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed snugly fit this strategy. But, calling Reed, who is viewed as a pariah by labor, an “American hero,” was too far off the rails. Khanna is obviously a Democrat and presumably tacking from the moderate left to the moderate right also means an occasional turn to the left. However, placing Reed on a pedestal might make any forays to left to seem disingenuous. In the meantime, Khanna’s Election Day may not be Nov. 4, but Oct. 6. That’s the date of the locally televised debate against Rep. Mike Honda. Khanna needs a knockout in addition to some sort of funky Admiral James Stockdale antics ("Who am I? Why am I here?") from Honda. There's no story here to tell until this occurs. That’s a low-odds, high-pressure scenario that does not bode well for Khanna. Taking out an incumbent member of Congress is like winning a heavyweight title fight. You not only have to beat the champ, you have to do it in a decisive manner. Khanna goes into the Oct. 6 debate losing on almost everybody's scorecard. Khanna desperately needs an unforced error from Honda, but the incumbent is showing all signs that he's willing to win re-election with a defensive approach.

Top of the heap: Rebecca Kaplan
OAKLAND MAYORAL RACE Although a poll released this week showed Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan easily winning the ranked-choice voting race over Mayor Jean Quan, the numbers were highly dubious and probably purposefully. This is Oakland, after all. However, the other mayoral candidates not named Kaplan should now shift gears and make her the Don Perata of this race, meaning, the mantra should be: “Anybody but Rebecca.” Curiously, none of the candidates seem to understand the key to ranked-choice voting is coalitions. There appear to be none, as of this week. However, Kaplan is the only candidate who consistently asks for second and third place votes. Granted, some like Councilmember Libby Schaaf and Quan have begun adding the tagline, but it’s still not common. The perception in the public that Kaplan is the clear frontrunner should be the impetus for her opponents to realize if they don’t somehow band together, none of them will be mayor. Four years ago this occurred when Quan and Kaplan joined forces and it worked in blocking Perata from the mayor’s office. The story should be, everybody is still in it because this race might not be cinched until the last days of the campaign.

Diana Souza
SAN LEANDRO MAYORAL RACE Councilmember Diana Souza doesn’t seem to understand her campaign for mayor is based on beating a straw man. She denied her comments Thursday highlighting the need for a mayor to form strong relationships with colleagues and constituents was a jab at out-going Mayor Stephen Cassidy, who is not running for re-election. In fact, it’s the perfect strategy where there is no clear frontrunner. Cassidy has been an absentee mayor who attempted to schedule the business of city government literally around his own personal work schedule and City Hall appears in disarray over the lack of leadership from the top (Exhibit A: the Oakland garbage contract). In a race where two of the three candidates are members of the City Council, running against City Hall takes some work in making the case. However, since Souza has long been an opponent to Cassidy, her case is far more plausible than Councilmember Pauline Cutter, who has ties to the mayor. Conversely, political newbie Dan Dillman is an outsider who needs to consistently point out when his colleagues criticize decisions they actually supported while on the council. When Dillman vowed to bring back council committees, Cutter and Souza agreed, despite voting to discontinue them two years ago.
Ellen Corbett for county supervisor?
CORBETT'S FUTURE Political parlor games over a landing place for termed out State Sen. Ellen Corbett continue to heat up since the end of the legislative season last month in Sacramento. One can detect three distinct paths for Corbett who finished a dismal and surprising third in the June primary race for the 15th Congressional District. She could seek a government appointment in Sacramento, run for city office in the future or regroup and aim for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors after 2016. Just about every termed out legislator has an opportunity for an appointment by the governor, especially the former majority leader, but this option was there even before her congressional run. Returning to her roots in San Leandro might feel like a significant demotion for Corbett, although, the city is on the rise and could definitely use her experience and gravitas. The third potential option could get Corbett’s political juices flowing. Supervisor Wilma Chan is a likely candidate for the State Senate in two years, maybe against Nancy Skinner and Sandre Swanson. It would be a tough race for Chan, but don’t count her out. If she were to win, who in the supervisorial third district would be more qualified than Corbett?
Is Mike Katz-Lacabe's candidacy in San
Leandro being undermined from within?
HERE AND THERE Oakland mayoral candidate Bryan Parker has gotten into the bad habit of publicizing some political endorsements as if they were given solely to his campaign. For, at least, the second time, Parker boasted of backing from Oakland pastors that was actually a three-way endorsement. This week, one opponent, Joe Tuman, called him out on Twitter for the act...Another Oakland mayoral challenger, Saied Karamooz, has what you can call an excellent jab. His answers are short, sweet and powerful. However, during a forum this week hosted by a number of non-profits, the anti-government candidate told them, "I want to put all of you out of business." He meant the sheer number of non-profits in Oakland shows government is not doing its job to help people, but the comment was followed by a long, eerie silence...Someone needs to tell San Leandro mayoral candidate Pauline Cutter to smile when others are speaking at candidates forums. Thursday night, she continually frowned during comments made by her opponents. They were not reactions to their comments, but a weird default face that looks like one of those dolls made from dried, wrinkled apples…The Alameda County Democratic Party has the endorsement on consent for business-friendly San Leandro council candidate Deborah Cox over one of the most liberal candidates in all of San Leandro, Mike Katz-Lacabe. The reason: political hardball. Katz-Lacabe’s wife is central committee member Margarita Lacabe, the same person who cost the group thousands in legal fees from a dubious investigation this year by the Fair Political Practices Commission.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

OPINION: Chronicle Columnist is Again Smearing Oakland

By Elmano Gonsalves
San Francisco Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson
OAKLAND | OPINION | Chip Johnson, it seems that your on-going vendetta against Jean Quan and the city of Oakland continues unabated. The San Francisco-centric and slanted media goes after Oakland Mayor Jean Quan as if she were Kim Kardashian. Quan makes news when she gets a parking ticket, is involved in a fender bender, when her car window gets smashed, when she's talking on her cell phone, when her purse gets stolen, etc.

It's all fun and games for the selective San Francisco-centric media who could care less about what San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is up to. Lee is not questioned about a 22 percent increase in crime in 2013. Lee goes on with his business as tourists are shot in San Francisco. He is undisturbed as tourists and KRON-TV have their cameras stolen at gunpoint. No one writes a column when a 14-year-old boy is murdered in San Francisco.

Chip, you like to embellish any negative news or crime numbers when it comes to Oakland. You stated that crime in Oakland under Quan was " the deepest and widest" it had ever been. Once again you're making things up. In 1992 there were 175 homicides in Oakland. The 1980s and 1990s saw much higher crime rates. The robbery numbers the media likes to pin on Oakland had to do with smart phone thefts which included 75 percent of all robberies in Oakland in 2012. San Francisco had the same problem, but fudged the robbery figures by classifying cell phone robberies as thefts.

You may think that you're helping to insure that Jean Quan loses the election, but what you're really doing is exposing San Francisco's disdain for any progress in Oakland.

Chip, it's interesting that you make no mention of how much crime has come down in Oakland in the last two years. You're not Interested in the record low 48 non-justifiable homicides in Oakland as of Sept. 9. You know Oakland's homicide, robbery, and residential burglary numbers are down by over 30 percent in 2014. You know that Oakland has a chance to record the lowest homicide count since the 1960's. Why aren't you writing about the record low crime rates instead of once again smearing Oakland?

Unfortunately, this has been your method of operation for many, many years as a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. You bury the good news and the record low crime numbers since it doesn't fit your anti-Oakland agenda and the narrative that Oakland is a "crime infested " and "impoverished city" which you and your fellow San Francisco-centric colleagues want so desperately to promote and perpetuate.

Folks in Oakland understand that you've had an anti-Oakland agenda for a very long time. No one likes a bully. You may think that you're helping to insure that Jean Quan loses the election but what you're really doing is exposing San Francisco's disdain for any progress in Oakland. Oaklanders don't like bullies with agendas working for a newspaper in a neighboring city which attempts to define Oakland on a daily basis with selective reporting.

Your anti-Quan agenda is going to backfire and I predict Jean Quan will get re-elected. Is she the best candidate with the best leadership skills? Probably not. Has she been unfairly targeted by you and your San Francisco-entric media colleagues? Absolutely.

Elmano Gonsalves is a former Oakland resident who resides in the East Bay. In August, his criticisms of the San Francisco media's reporting of Oakland was featured in the East Bay Express.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Oakland Pastors Use Heavenly Guidance; Endorse Tuman, Parker, Siegel for Mayor

Center: Bryan Parker and Bishop Bob Jackson.
OAKLAND | MAYOR | Not many people know Oakland mayoral candidate Bryan Parker was once on the path to the priesthood.

Parker attended the seminary as a teenager and although he maintained his faith, he later became disillusioned by the Catholic Church, and reversed course.

Therefore, it’s no surprise Parker was one of three candidates who received the backing Tuesday from 200 of Oakland’s most influential pastors.  Although, the group did not suggest a 1-2-3 order for voters in the ranked-choice voting election this fall, Joe Tuman received the most votes, followed by Parker and Dan Siegel.

However, the selection also came with some guidance from above.

When it came to Parker's endorsement, well-know Bishop Bob Jackson of Oakland's Acts Full Gospel Church said, "We prayed on it, evaluated performance, and in the end, were guided by Proverbs 29:2, which says, 'When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people mourn.'"

However, it begs to question: is Bishop Bob saying Mayor Jean Quan is backed by the Devil?

UPDATE: A correction was made to reflect Joe Tuman received the most votes from the group of Oakland pastor.

Did Khanna Break His Questionnaire Pledge or Not?

Ro Khanna
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Over a year ago, Ro Khanna referenced the Federalist Papers and derided the powerful hand of special interests hampering government today. He later said, “Candidates should publicly refuse to fill out questionnaires from interest groups that pre-commit them to positions.”

However, when the influential San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber PAC sent a candidates questionnaire to Khanna last August, did the 17th congressional district candidate challenging fellow Democratic Rep. Mike Honda oblige them or not?

The Silicon Valley Chamber PAC questionnaire, obtained by the East Bay Citizen, contains 22 questions. Khanna’s response, also obtained by the Citizen, shows that while he did not answer the chamber’s questions directly, he instead provided a separate and lengthy 14-page letter essentially serving as an overview of all the group’s queries.

Tyler Law, Khanna’s communication director, said the campaign did not take any positions in the letter to the chamber. “We have not changed our policy one bit,” he said. The contents of the letter, said Law, came mostly from Khanna’s book on manufacturing published last year. “You won’t be surprised by anything in the letter,” added Law.

Khanna later received the chamber’s endorsement, but the PAC is not able to make donations on the Federal level. Throughout the campaign, Khanna has pledged to not accept donations from PACs,

Vivek Kembaiyan, Honda’s communication director, said Tuesday the campaign did not participate in the chamber’s endorsement process, but he criticized Khanna for doing so.

"Before squandering more than $3 million just to lose by 20 points, Ro Khanna made all kinds of promises, including not to take support from PACs and to not fill out any questionnaires from interest groups,” said Kembaiyan. “He went back on both of those promises and is embracing support of the conservative Chamber PAC, which opposed a minimum-wage increase that Congressman Honda helped fight for. Ro has shown his true colors: he will say or do anything if he thinks it will help him get elected."

As the fall race heats up, the next pivotal moment in the campaign may come Oct. 6, during an locally televised debate between the candidates in San Jose.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Swalwell's Bad Bet on a House Republican who Dislikes Gays

CONGRESS | DISTRICT 15 | Always choose your friends wisely. Especially, if you’re an East Bay congressman who publicly consorts with a North Carolina Republican who believes employers have the right to fire people because of their sexual orientation.

Earlier this year, Rep. Eric Swalwell produced a torturous, tongue-in-cheek YouTube production with Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.) in which they donned the jersey’s of their favorite football teams in the lengthy video and wagered a bet on their playoff chances.

The video is no longer available on Swalwell's congressional YouTube channel. It is now set to "private," but the same video, below, is still posted on Pittenger's page. Similarly, a video in 2013 of Swalwell praising an Alameda County sheriff's deputy for valor on duty in Oakland no longer exists on the channel. Reports later found the deputy had shot himself in the foot.

Meanwhile, Swalwell and the 49ers won the bet, but his consistent desire to reach across the aisle, despite a Republican-dominated House showing unwillingness to cooperate with Democrats may be a loser.

During a town hall meeting last weekend, Pittenger, who is a member of the Swalwell-led bipartisan group calling itself the United Solutions Caucus, said people should be allowed to run their business however they want, including whether or not they want gay people to work for them or not, ThinkProgress reported Monday.

“You need to respect the autonomy of somebody running their business,” said Pittenger. “It’s like smoking bans. Do you ban smoking or do people have the right to private property? I think people have the right to private property. In public spaces, absolutely, we can have smoking bans. But we don’t want to micromanage people’s lives and businesses. If you have a business, do you want the government to come in and tell you you need to hire somebody? Why should government be there to impose on the freedoms we enjoy?”

Pittenger’s far-right rhetoric follows an equally reactionary comment a week before when he told ThinkProgress young immigrant children escaping violence in Central America should be deported back to their country of origin even if the chance exists they could be murdered upon return.

Like Swalwell, Pittenger is a first-time congressman seeking re-election for the first time. However, unlike Swalwell, Pittenger is running unopposed this November.

The Swalwell-led United Solutions Caucus was created, he says, to highlight a number of young Democratic and Republican representatives who want to break through the partisan gridlock they believe is paralyzing Congress. When it was formed in early 2013, Pittenger was named its co-chair.

During a town hall meeting last month in San Lorenzo, Swalwell offered numerous instances when he reached across the aisle to House Republicans, yet also assured one resident, he indeed, was a progressive.

However, it was a stance trumpeted by Swalwell and the caucus last December which represents the most glaring reason some constituents continue to be skeptical of his progressive leanings after he and the group supported a budget offered by Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray that cut unemployment benefits for over 1.3 million Americans.

Swalwell later asked constituents to help him fight to restore the cuts to unemployment benefits—the same cuts he supported a few weeks earlier.