Friday, October 31, 2014

AD16 PREVIEW: If You’ve Got the Money, Honey, I’ve Got the Time

Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti and Tri Valley attorney Catharine Baker.
MEET THE CANDIDATES Catherine Baker, you are the only hope for Republicans in the East Bay on Nov. 4. The first-time candidate is not only the local party’s best prospect, but also one in the only conceivable area that could elect a Republican. The Contra Costa County seat which includes much of the Tri Valley in Alameda County has the right numbers in terms of party affiliation and the moderate political climate to possibly turn this blue Assembly seat back to red for the first time in six years. Baker is somewhat of an old school Republican, the kind who focuses more on the pocket book and less on social issues. She’s against high-speed rail, against higher taxes and proposes returning power from Sacramento to local municipalities. The state of education in California is also a frequent punching bag for Baker. Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti is a moderate Democrat, but one with loads of labor support. The California Teachers Association has backed Sbranti’s campaign since the primary. Assuredly they like his politics, but that he’s also a high school teacher. In fact, Rep. Eric Swalwell was one of his pupils. If Baker’s conservative approach has a chance in AD16, so does Sbranti’s moderate ideology. This seat last belonged to termed out Assemblymember Joan Buchanan, whose politics mimics Sbranti’s

WHAT’S THE BEEF There’s the fight on the campaign trail and there's the fight among special interests. Similar to the primary when over $3 million was spent, primarily for and against Democrats Steve Glazer and Sbranti, the general election has seen rivers of independent expenditures. Much of the outlay has come in the last few weeks. Conservative-backed IE Spirit of Democracy California, for instance, dropped more than $1 million on behalf of Baker. The move was a reaction to another cool million spent in combination of Sbranti’s own campaign and the IE represented by the teachers’ union. Baker’s strategy is to describe Sbranti in the mold of just another tax-and-spend Democrat in Sacramento. Sbranti is using a similar move to tie Baker to the Tea Party with the IE partially funded by Republican activist Charles Munger as proof.

PAST RESULTS 2014 June Primary: 1. Catherine Baker 31,632 (36.7%) 2. Tim Sbranti 25,217 (29.2%) 3. Steve Glazer 19,636 (22.8%) 4. Newell Anerich 9,794 (11.4%). 2012 General Election: 1. Joan Buchanan (D) 125,952 (59.2%) 2. Al Phillips (R) 86,803 (40.8%).

CAMPAIGN FINANCE (Through Sept. 30): Sbranti $59,507 cash on hand, $1,591,481 since last filing: Baker $55,771 cash on hand, $169,853 since last filing.

OUTLOOK Baker is a very capable candidate, which is especially surprising since she has no other political experience other working briefly in her 20s for Rep. Mary Bono. Sbranti, however, has proven to be an excellent mayor in Dublin, but his energy level is a concern. On the issues, the special interests money, and the makeup of the candidates represent a stalemate. But, the difference at the polls may follow Baker’s uncertain position on Proposition 2, the rainy day fund initiative. Baker did not flip-flop on the issue, but Sbranti deftly latched onto the nuance in her answers and may have successfully undermined her candidacy. The mailer Sbranti’s campaign sent asserting Baker opposes Prop. 2 hurt and the quick response from Baker only highlighted the blow’s power.

PREDICTION 1. Sbranti 2. Baker


San Leandro mayoral candidates Councilmember Pauline Cutter, Bal Theater owner Dan Dillman and Councilmember Diana Souza.
THE CANDIDATES When Mayor Stephen Cassidy made the surprising announcement that he would not seek re-election after just one term; you would expect a series of musical chairs following the major recalculation of the city’s politics. But, this did not happen. Instead, just three candidates entered the race for mayor. But, no matter the results, San Leandro’s City Council is assured of having four of its seven seats change hands this November. Diana Souza, after two terms on the City Council, was already planning an insurgent campaign against Cassidy even before he left the race. Soon after, she quickly snagged the city’s valuable backing of the police officers’ union. Souza is also the city’s most fervent opponent of medical cannabis dispensaries. Councilmember Pauline Cutter has served one term on the City Council after 12 years on the school board. Her ties to Cassidy in the past make her the likely successor to his debatable accomplishment over the past four years. Local theater owner Dan Dillman has, at times, been the star of this campaign and the only candidate offering any thoughtful new ideas. Quite assuredly, Dillman is the only candidate in the East Bay who has served jail time in the past six months. Following a questionable 2011 altercation with police in front of his theater, Dillman served 69 days in jail this summer for battery against two sheriff’s deputies.

On the City Council side, all three seats are open. Councilmember Michael Gregory (District 1) and Souza (District 3) are termed out and Cutter opted to run for mayor instead of re-election. By far, the most contested race is in District 1 featuring school board member Mike Katz-Lacabe, Deborah Cox, Ken Pon and David Anderson, who ran for the seat in 2010. Three newcomers in District 3, including Zoning Commissioner Lee Thomas, hope to replace Souza. In District 5, school board member Corina Lopez is again seeking the seat four years after losing to Cutter. Community organizers Mia Ousley and Leah Hall are also in the race.

PAST RESULTS 2010 Results (RCV)—Mayor: 1, Stephen  Cassidy 10,277 (50.57%) 2. Tony Santos 10,045 (49.43%); First Round: 1. Tony Santos 7,956 (35.48%) 2. Stephen Cassidy 7,894 (35.21%) 3. Joyce Starosciak 5,192 (23.16%) 4. Sara Mestas 918 (4.09%) 5. John Palau 388 (1.73%).

District 1: 1. Michael Gregory 12,973 (65.05%) 2. David Anderson 6,701 (33.60%); District 3: 1. Diana Souza 16,995 (97.2%); District 5: 1. Pauline Cutter 10,719 (53.21%) 2. Corina Lopez 9,215 (45.74%).

OUTLOOK The mayor’s race could be a dogfight between Souza and Cutter. Like Oakland and Berkeley, San Leandro uses ranked-choice voting and Dillman’s votes could be ultimately decide a close first round result. But, weirdness abounds in this race. Even though Dillman spent time in jail for beating cops, he is still a strong supporter of law enforcement. Souza is supported by the cops, but will Dillman’s supporters pick Souza as their number two if she's also against dispensaries? Conversely, Cutter, like Souza, isn’t exactly the most inspiring candidate going. She is also Cassidy’s pick and lately, his support hasn’t really been helpful. Two years ago, his slate of three council candidates all lost. With so many clear negatives resting on these candidate’s head, it still confounds many why popular Councilmember Jim Prola did not run for mayor. It would have been cakewalk.

It’s difficult to project Katz-Lacabe winning the District 1 seat even though many have long speculated he would run for it following Gregory’s tenure. He simply has no presence in the race while Cox, with significant campaign fundraising is pouring it on with signs and mailers. Cox is nowhere near as progressive as Katz-Lacabe, which makes it even more depressing for left-minded San Leandrans dreaming of another labor-friendly council member in the mold of Prola. Thomas should have no problem in District 3 and his election will merely swap Souza’s moderate platform for his and although Ousley is making a spirited run, Lopez should make the leap from the school board and finally give the city’s Latino population a voice on the City Council.

PREDICTIONS Mayor: 1) Cutter 2) Souza 3) Dillman

City Council District 1 1) Cox 2) Katz-Lacabe 3) Pon 4) Anderson
City Council District 3 1) Thomas 2) Aguilar 3) Schoenfeld
City Council District 5 1) Lopez 2) Ousley 3) Hall

AD20 PREVIEW: Quirk in Cruise Control

Assemblymember Bill Quirk and Union City Human Relations Commissioner Jaime Patino.
MEET THE CANDIDATES Four years ago, Bill Quirk was the favorite to follow two-terms on the Hayward City Council with a seat in the Assembly. By Election Day, the race tightened significantly with Quirk winning by one of the smallest margins in the 2012 General Election—917 votes over Jennifer Ong. Now in Sacramento, Quirk has become the Assembly Democrat’s go-to-guy on scientific issues. In fact, former Speaker John Perez routinely addressed him during floor sessions as “Dr. Quirk.” Few on the Hayward City Council ever called him by this honorific, but Quirk is, indeed, a nuclear physicist and his expertise is a useful niche in the Assembly populated mostly by attorneys. Jaime Patino is a Union City Human Relations Commissioner and first-time candidate. He gained a second place finish last June. Patino may be part of a new wave of local Republicans who make no bones about their deviation from the national party’s rhetoric on social issues. Patino even won Quirk’s praise during the primary when he unequivocally supported same-sex marriage and spoke favorably about the plight of immigrants.

WHAT’S THE BEEF The comity ends there, though. A huge gulf exists between Quirk, a liberal Democrat, and Patino, a moderate Republican. Quirk is a firm supporter of gun control, although, the issue has not gained much prominence during the fall campaign. Patino, however, has banged the fiscal drum of criticism towards Quirk and the Democratic-controlled Legislature. Taxes are too high, forcing California businesses to flee the state, says Patino, and the state’s schools continue to under perform because of Democrats. The line of attack should feel familiar because it’s similar to rhetoric coming from California GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari, although, not exclusively. Quirk, on the other hand, believes the state is moving in the right direction following a series of balanced budgets and a growing surplus.

PAST RESULTS 2014 June Primary: 1. Bill Quirk 31,882 (66.0%) 2. Jaime Patino 11,246 (23.3%) 3. Luis Reynoso 5,186 (10.7%). 2012 General Election: 1. Bill Quirk 67,028 (50.3%) 2. Jennifer Ong 66,111 (49.7%).

CAMPAIGN FINANCE (Through Sept. 30): Quirk $70,753 cash on hand; $50,908 since last filing; Patino, no finance report filed.

OUTLOOK Quirk’s margin of victory won’t be a large as Bonta's, his neighboring assembly member to the north who also seeking his first re-election this November, but it will be significant. Quirk’s profile over the past two years hasn't been as prominent as Bonta and many voters outside of Hayward (or maybe in Hayward, too) are not yet familiar with their representative.

PREDICTION 1. Quirk 2. Patino

AD18 PREVIEW: GOP’s Sacrificial Lamb

Assemblymember Rob Bonta, left, defeated David Erlich by 70 percentage points in the June Primary. They meet again in November. PHOTO/Steven Tavares
MEET THE CANDIDATES Rob Bonta won this seat two years ago by only more than a thousand votes. This time around his campaign has even bothered to put up campaign signs. That doesn’t imply Bonta is taken the likely blowout lightly. At the few candidate forums organized for this race, Bonta has shown up and engaged his opponent. During his first term, Bonta boasts 16 of the 20 bills offered to Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law. His focus over the past two years has been on public safety, although many of his bills have yet to pan out, including one that would have given the Oakland City Council power to regulate gun registration and sales. David Erlich is a San Leandro electrician whose politics clearly run to the right, although, with a libertarian streak. In addition, he has become a vocal foot soldier for the Alameda County GOP. Erlich was part of the opposition to the One Bay Area transportation and planning initiative and asserts Sacramento is usurping local control of municipal finances. Erlich has also been in the hospital since Oct. 9 following emergency surgery. He will likely spend Election Night in the hospital, he says.

WHAT’S THE BEEF? As it pertains to local issues confronting the district, the rhetoric now, and during the primary, is few and far between. That’s not to say there are not significant ideological differences in this race. In fact, they are monumental, but the conflict is more general. Like watching the talking heads on cable television spout the party lines of the left and right. Bonta touts the state’s economic upturn, while Erlich says the surplus is a ruse when billions in unfunded pension costs are still on the state’s ledger. The race was neatly summed up last month at a forum in Alameda when Bonta declared, "I think we're starting to see difference between me and my opponent. He doesn't believe in taxes. He doesn't believe in government." Erlich disagreed.

PAST RESULTS 2014 June Primary: 1. Rob Bonta (D) 44,321 (85.8%) 2. David Erlich (R) 7,358 (14.2%); 2012 General Election: 1. Rob Bonta (D) 75,865 (50.5%) 2. Abel Guillen (D) 74,422 (49.5%).

CAMPAIGN FINANCE (Through Sept. 30) Bonta $440,469 cash on hand; $177,656 since last filing; Erlich, no finance report filed.

OUTLOOK Erlich is fully aware he's in for another drubbing this November and he has been honest about the reason he’s running for the seat: Bonta shouldn’t be running unopposed. In one of the most shining moments of political honesty, Erlich said this about his chances of winning, “Buy a lottery ticket, you’lll have a better chance.” As in the primary, either this race or Rep. Barbara Lee’s, will represent the most-lopsided result in the entire East Bay.

PREDICTION 1. Bonta 2. Erlich

AD-18 Candidate Has Been In The Hospital Since Early October; Has No Insurance

David Erlich, a candidate for the 18th Assembly District next week has been in the hospital since Oct. 9 following emergency surgery for a perforated ulcer. PHOTO/Steven Tavares
ASSEMBLY | DISTRICT 18 | Candidate David Erlich is hoping to serve residents in Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro in the state Assembly, and he’s hoping to get out of the hospital soon. Erlich, a Republican, facing incumbent Democratic Assemblymember Rob Bonta next Tuesday, has been in the hospital since October 9 after undergoing an emergency surgery for a perforated ulcer — a procedure that quickly developed complications.

Shortly after the surgery, Erlich was discharged from San Leandro Hospital, but then returned eight hours later after suffering a bad reaction to the medication given by doctors. Upon his second stint in the hospital, doctors delivered more bad news: His gall bladder needs to be removed.

In the meantime, Erlich is awaiting surgery and will most likely spend Election Night next Tuesday convalescing in the hospital. The fiscally-conservative Assembly candidate also does not have health insurance.

Speaking from his hospital room Friday afternoon, Erlich said health insurance premiums of more than $3,000 a month for him, his wife and daughter, forced him to decline coverage. Erlich, who resides in San Leandro, works as a freelance electrician. He estimates the cost of his care will be hundreds of thousands of dollars. For now he calls himself a “charity case” since Alameda County taxpayers may pick up the tab for his care. Erlich said he fully intends to pay back the county...


Thursday, October 30, 2014

DOWN BALLOT: Oct. 30, 2014, 5 Days Until Election Day

OAKLAND MAYOR At the Oakland Sports Forum Wednesday evening at the Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, most of the 15 mayoral candidate s weighed-in on the future of the city’s professional sports franchises and where they might play for the next generation of fans. The issue is vitally important to Mayor Jean Quan’s re-election bid and regarding the possibility of Coliseum City, which could feature stadiums for the each the A’s and Raiders, she told the audience, “I’ve got it closer than it’s ever been and I’ve stuck my neck out.”

ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 16 Catharine Baker is vehemently denying she is against Proposition 2, the State Rainy Day Fund initiative. In response, Baker’s campaign referenced an Oct. 10 interview with the Tri Valley newspaper The Independent when she stated support for Prop. 2. However, Sbranti’s mailer slamming Baker as an opponent of the initiative features a footnote from Sept. 29. Furthermore, a right-leaning Contra Costa County political web site was also under the impression Baker was against Prop. 2. In a posting on Monday, it highlighted Prop. 2 as a major difference between the candidates. Baker’s campaign says she only questioned a portion of the initiative pertaining to state funding for schools.

STATE SENATE DISTRICT 10 Republican Peter Kuo is bringing back his violin. In a short video, Kuo reiterated his inspiring story of emigrating to the U.S. from Taiwan. Kuo then criticized the State Legislature for being out of tune with Californians. He later placed the violin on his shoulder and illustrated the analogy with a screeching sound. Bringing change to Sacramento, he continued, will bring harmony. Kuo then beautifully played the instrument. Kuo is a Santa Clara insurance broker and classically-trained violinist facing Democrat Bob Wieckowski next week.

SAN LEANDRO MAYOR/COUNCIL A little-known write-in mayoral candidate named Gregg Daly received some attention from the city’s weekly newspaper Thursday. In the article, Daly told the San Leandro Times he didn’t register as a qualified candidate before the Aug. 8 deadline because he wants to be a different kind of candidate...In the City Council District 5 race, candidate Mia Ousley previously told followers on Facebook her pet hen, Red, had been captured by a rogue raccoon and eaten. Miraculously, on Thursday, Red returned alive.


ELECTION ’14 | I think absolutely no case has been made to replace Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. At one point, over 20 candidates were potentially in the race and over the past 16 months none of the remaining 14 have made a cogent argument against giving Quan another four years. That she might be awkward and not a very good public speaker is nowhere near good enough reasons to pick someone else. You knew all these things about Quan since she served on the school board. Switching horses, at this point, when Oakland is doing well, is a very serious question Oakland voters really need to think hard about.

Variations of "Quan has cooties" isn't enough
to unseat an incumbent.
I think the somewhat dubious domestic violence story about Bryan Parker (one we all knew about for over a year) only means the other candidates (i.e. Schaaf) are worried about him…I think Dana King is a very bad choice for the Oakland City Council and the media knows it, too. Think about it? Why is a 25-year veteran of local broadcasting not getting her face on television or being written about in the print media? I’m thinking, think Ron Burgundy…I think if you add Abel Guillen to the Oakland City Council and pair him with fellow progressives Desley Brooks and Dan Kalb, you suddenly have a formidable lefty wing on the council…

I think a sanitary board candidate in Castro Valley named Marc Crawford is the mullet-haired deformed love child of Rep. Eric Swalwell and Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley (both have endorsed Crawford). Why is a U.S. representative endorsing a clearly paranoid, loose cannon of a right-wing candidate? Why is the typically self-absorbed Swalwell suddenly taking his eyes off his own future? This is very reckless. A guy like Crawford will embarrass you one day…I think Hugh Bussell, Swalwell’s Republican opponent this November, had just one goal: pray he could beat the more progressive Ellen Corbett in June. Bussell and the Alameda County GOP got their wish and have virtually allowed Swalwell to stand re-election without a fight. What does that say to you? The Republicans know Swalwell isn’t a progressive. Why don’t you?...

Republicans have a great candidate in Catharine Baker
and they might blow a chance to gain a seat
in the Assembly due to their ineptitude.
I think I don’t know what has become of Ro Khanna. I never thought he would so blatantly embrace the right like he has over the past six weeks…I still think Khanna’s high-priced consultants, borrowed from President Obama’s re-election team, totally blew it. While Rep. Mike Honda is blasting away at him on TV for being “Right Wing Ro," Khanna’s campaign has no money to fight back over the airwaves…

I think the California Republican Party has again shown why it’s such a hapless band of nobody’s. Look at the 16th Assembly District—totally winnable and they’re going to screw it up because GOP State Chair Jim Brulte didn’t focus early fundraising on an excellent candidate in Catharine Baker…I think Tim Sbranti is a great public servant, but maybe he’s what they call in baseball—a AAAA player—not good enough for the majors, but too good for the minors (i.e. Dublin)…

I think I learned more about BART and public transportation in the Bay Area when I interviewed BART board director Robert Raburn than at any time in my entire life. He’s clearly better suited for BART than Lena Tam, but his curious backstabbing of union workers during the BART strike was, indeed, that bad...

Who needs public service when you can
be like Joel Young as use your elected 
position as an OkCupid profile?
I think you know I don’t make endorsement, at least, blatant ones, but hold tight: Do not vote for Alameda County Superintendent of Schools candidate Karen Monroe! The Alameda County Office of Education may be the most corrupt public entity in the region and Monroe is simply current Superintendent Shelia Jordans puppet and hand-picked successor. People at ACOE want to keep their jobs, so information is hard to pin down regarding wrongdoing, but, c’mon, there are literally 10 separate and serious allegations being made at this office and Monroe, as assistant supe, is already part of it. Nobody really knows what ACOE does legally and they certainly don’t know what it’s doing illegally...

I think, at this point, Joel Young is only running for public office to get chicks…

The Alameda County GOP would be very wise to give Sue Caro another two years at the helm. She’s bringing the local party back from the Fox News abyss and back to focusing on the basics, like GOTV and cultivating a stable of good moderate Republicans who can actually compete locally…I think Bob Wieckowski will be one of those obedient Democrats in the State Senate who gets nothing done for his district. You know, just like his undistinguished time in the Assembly. What I’m saying is, expect more nebulous resolutions from him and nothing else...

Bonta is already at the top of class among East Bay
elected officials after just two years in the Assembly.
I think in terms of boring, the East Bay is trading one immensely boring Assembly member in Nancy Skinner with another snoozer in Elizabeth Echols. Sorry, Berkeley isn’t very exciting and it deserves similar representation. Besides, the bastions of progressivism now reside in Oakland and Richmond...I think Skinner's underreported vindictiveness with colleagues over the years will catch up with her if she runs for Hancock's termed out State Senate seat in 2016. Think Mary Hayashi-lite...I think Sandre Swanson's health will stop him from running for the same seat--he's already two-fisting it with walking canes...

I think the worst group of candidates in the East Bay is in San Leandro. WTF! Thirteen people are either running for mayor or competing for three open, incumbent-less, council seats and this is the best San Leandro can do? In addition, most act like they only thought about their platforms five seconds after a question is asked. Exactly one candidate on the entire ballot is major league quality and that’s District 5 candidate Corina Lopez. She has a great personal story which lends itself to helping the poor and powerless. And I’ll say this, if you’re a politically-inclined parent with a young daughter, you would hope she grows up and becomes a politician like Lopez.

I think Rob Bonta is far-and-above the East Bay’s true rising star--he's a five-tool player--but I think he will momentarily suffer if his district director and right-hand man Jim Oddie wins a seat on the Alameda City Council. Bonta will rebound in short time and he better hope Oddie succeeds in his bid next week because it doesn’t look good for Bonta’s gathering power to NOT have your guy win. I don’t know why he didn’t grease the skids for Oddie last year to gain an appointment to the Alameda Healthcare District board…

I think any mailer that says an incumbent candidate “balanced the budget” how many straight years, should raise flags in your head that this person is lying. ALL MUNICIPAL BUDGETS, BY STATE LAW, MUST BE BALANCED EVERY YEAR.

Hat in Hand, Katz-Lacabe's Council Campaign is Politically Couch-Surfing

San Leandro District 1 candidates Deborah Cox and Mike Katz-Lacabe, at a forum last August, differ in many ways, including the amount of campaign contributions they have received this election cycle. 
PHOTO/Steven Tavares
SAN LEANDRO | CITY COUNCIL | San Leandro City Council candidate Mike Katz-Lacabe is a two-term school board member and one of the city's most noted progressives. And, in no way, is he a fringe candidate. So, why hasn't he been able to attract fundraising to his campaign this fall?

Katz-Lacabe is featured prominently in a mailer 
paid for by another council candidate.
In the past, Katz-Lacabe has eschewed campaign contributions, but that was during two somewhat easy school board races. This year's District 1 campaign, however, is far more competitive and big money rests with his main challenger, Human Services Commissioner Deborah Cox.

Cox has raised more than $44,500 this year, according to the most recent campaign finance reports ending Oct. 18. She  maintains nearly $19,000 in reserves for the stretch run to Nov. 4. The flow of cash has helped Cox engage voters with numerous mailers and lawn signs all over the city.

But, she is not the only candidate in District 1 race, excluding Katz-Lacabe, that is doing well financially. Former school board member Ken Pon raised nearly $13,000 this year, according to finance reports, in addition, to the $5,000 personal loan to his campaign. Pon has $6,761 cash on hand, through Oct. 18. Former Oakland school board member David Anderson, Sr. reported nearly $7,000 this year, including a $5,000 personal loan.

Katz-Lacabe, meanwhile, has not raised enough money to even trigger a campaign finance disclosure report. But, that hasn't stopped him from getting his name out through other means, like piggy-backing on the campaign flyers of a political ally in another council race.

The other side of this small leaflet features
District 5 candidate Mia Ousley.
Last month, it was reported Katz-Lacabe was handing out two-sided leaflets to parents in front of some San Leandro schools. One side featured Katz-Lacabe and the other--with a similar design--extolled the campaign virtues of District 5 City Council Candidate Mia Ousley.

Furthermore, in recent weeks, a mailer sent to voters and paid for by Ousley's campaign, again featured both candidates, but this time with subtle advocacy for Katz-Lacabe's resume on the San Leandro school board.

"Mia has been my greatest ally in safeguarding civil liberties, promoting transparency and accountability in City Hall, and fighting against the long-term retention of surveillance data by law enforcement agencies," the mailer quotes Katz-Lacabe. Incidentally, each issues also represents Katz-Lacabe's campaign platform.

While it is clear Katz-Lacabe is cash poor, or, at minimum, able to stay under the $1,000 campaign with a bit of creativity, Ousley has been able to pull her own weight. The first-time candidate raised, $11,000 this year and reported $2,757 cash on hand, according to the most recent finance reports ending Oct. 18.

However, the nexus between Katz-Lacabe and Ousley in different council races and some donors are interesting. For instance, outgoing Mayor Stephen Cassidy appears on the Ousley mailer, along with Katz-Lacabe. Cassidy, Katz-Lacabe and Ousley have long been both personal and political friends. But, two weeks ago, Cassidy's re-election campaign donated $125 to Cox, Katz-Lacabe's opponent.

In addition, even though Katz-Lacabe would appear to be the most liberal candidate in the race, Alameda County Democrats, thought otherwise and made no endorsement in the race. The signal from the party was heard. On Oct. 16, the campaign of Assemblymember Rob Bonta, who represents San Leandro, added $1,000 to Cox's treasury.

First Lady Records Call for Mike Honda

CONGRESS | DISTRICT 17 | Ro Khanna may have once worked for President Obama, but last year he endorsed Khanna's opponent, Rep. Mike Honda in the 17th Congressional District. Now, the President is sending in First Lady Michelle Obama to get out the vote for Honda.

A recorded message from Michelle Obama urging Democratic voters for next Tuesday's election to vote for Honda starts today, the Honda campaign says.

In the 47-second message, the First Lady says, "In an election this close, your vote is more important than ever before. We can’t risk having more out of touch folks coming to Congress, just because a handful of Democratic voters stayed home. Your vote for Mike Honda will make a real difference in supporting our President."

Even though both candidates are Democrats, getting true blue liberals to the ballot box may be more beneficial to Honda, than Khanna. In recent weeks, Honda's campaign has asserted Khanna is too moderate for the district, even suggesting in a campaign Web site, he is a righ-winger.

Former GOP Congressman to Mike Honda: 'Your Going Down Tuesday'

CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Former South Bay Rep. Ernie Konnyu is pissed. This week, Rep. Mike Honda's campaign attempted to link Konnyu, a divisive Republican representative who served the area in the 1980s, to Ro Khanna in a negative mailer.

Ernie Konnyu
Honda's campaign characterized Konnyu as "disgraced" and "disowned by his own party" after a series of sexual harassment allegations during his time, two decades ago, in Congress. It is also another attempt by Honda to brand Khanna as conservative.

But, Konnyu did not take kindly to the mailer and took to Twitter Wednesday afternoon to call out Honda.

"@RepMikeHonda You['re] going down Tuesday. The trash you sent on me was shameful...& against this retired Member! Go to political hell! Go Ro!"

A few months ago, the out-spoken Konnyu publicly urged members of the Tea Party to back Khanna's bid to unseat Honda. Khanna, though, has not distanced himself from Konnyu.

In One Day, IE Lays Out $622,500 In Support of Catharine Baker

Catharine Baker's lashed back at Tim Sbranti for a mailer she says purposefully misleads voters in the 16th Assembly District.
ASSEMBLY | DISTRICT 16 | Spirit of Democracy California, a right-wing independent expenditure committee believes the battleground 16th Assembly District can be turned from blue to red. On Tuesday, campaign finance reports show the IE, funded in part by Republican activist Charles Munger, Jr., spent $622,500 in a single day on Baker in her race against Democrat Tim Sbranti.

The mailer, above, was paid for by Sbranti's campaign,
but a flood of IE money on both sides is also
highlighting the race in the 16th District.
In addition to the large expenditure, the IE has spent over $1.5 million total in the race--$918,000 in support of Baker and $595,000 in opposition of Sbranti--since the beginning of October.

Baker and Sbranti hope to replace the termed out Assemblymember Joan Buchanan next month. Due to the political makeup of the Walnut Creek, Lamorinda and Tri Valley seat, Republicans believe they have one of the best chances in the state to pick up a seat in Assembly.

A similar IE funded the teachers’ union has spent nearly as much in favor of Sbranti and in opposition to his opponent. The California Teachers Association and California State Council of Service Employees IE has spent over $1 million since Oct. 1, according to the finance reports. Much of the outlay has gone to expensive media buys.

One commercial, seen during Wednesday’s Game 7 of the World Series, blasted Spirit of Democracy as an outside group attempting to influence the election. Sbranti’s own campaign, in addition, has also utilized the baseball postseason, through radio and TV ads, to get its own message out to voters.

All this extra money has also lent itself to controversial mailers on each side. Earlier this month, Sbranti’s campaign howled over a mailer attributed damaging quotes to Sbranti in a two-year Wall Street Journal article actually referring to former State Sen. Gloria Romero.

This week, Baker charged Sbranti with misleading voters in a mailer asserting she opposes Proposition 2, the State Rainy Day Budget Fund. Baker strongly denies she is against Prop. 2 and says her position has been very public, including at a candidate's forum featuring both candidates.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

DOWN BALLOT: Oct. 29, 2014, 6 Days Until Election Day

A broken car window outside Parker's 
campaign headquarters.
OAKLAND MAYOR Don Perata broke his silence Wednesday morning by endorsing Bryan Parker for mayor. However, to receive "The Don's" support Parker had to travel to Perata's Orinda office for the announcement. During a short press conference, Perata again lashed out at ranked-choice voting as being the cause for his upset loss in the 2010 Oakland mayor's race.

Parker's Facebook page also reported the back window of the candidate's Porsche was smashed Wednesday afternoon in the parking lot adjacent to campaign headquarters."This is why we fight!" the posting declared.

Several mayoral candidates will met tonight in what may be the final forum before Election Day next Tuesday. This forum has a specific theme not featured in the past two dozen or so events--the future of Oakland's sports franchises. The forum begins at 6 p.m. at the Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church.

ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 15 There is no greater political mystery this fall than why a well-financed independent expenditure committee backed in part by Big Oil would want to back Tony Thurmond. As a former member of the Richmond City Council Thurmond was anything but friendly to local viceroy Chevron. Conspiracy theories, aside, the IE named Alliance for California's Tomorrow has now spent $290,000 in support of Thurmond, through Oct. 28, according to finance reports.

ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 20 Assemblymember Bill Quirk and Republican challenger Jaime Patino met Tuesday night in San Lorenzo for likely one of the last candidate’s forums of the fall season. Patino’s chances for upsetting the first-time assembly member are very slim. And it’s not going to help that the domain name for his campaign web site as expired. According to GoDaddy.com, the domain patinofor20thassembly.com expired Oct. 26 and is pending renewal or deletion.

CONGRESS DISTRICT 17 As a child, Rep. Mike Honda spent time in Japanese American internment camps. A hero for many Japanese Americans, himself, this week, Honda took time to laud the accomplishments of San Francisco Giants left fielder Travis Ishikawa, who’s walk-off homer sent the team to the World Series last week. In a letter to the pennant-winning hero, Honda wrote, “Thank you for being such a tremendous role model for all Americans, but particularly those of Japanese descent who find special meaning in your continued success.”

Perata ‘Breaks his Silence;’ Endorses Parker for Mayor

Former State Senate Pro Team is backing Port Commissioner Bryan Parker for Oakland mayor.
OAKLAND | MAYOR | Former State Senate Pro Tem Don Perata says Oakland mayoral hopeful Bryan Parker has what it takes to get things done. With less than a week before Election Day, Perata announced Wednesday morning his endorsement of Parker for Oakland mayor.

Perata's endorsement continues an aggressive push by Parker during the last two weeks of the campaign. Last weekend, he also received the backing of former NAACP President Ben Jealous and entered a much-reported alliance with fellow candidates Joe Tuman and Courtney Ruby.

The press conference, though, occurred at Perata’s office in Orinda, where the former Oakland mayoral candidate from four years ago now lives.

“This is a wide open race,” said Perata in a statement. “The leadership Oakland needs will not come from any of the City Hall incumbents. As former leader of the California State Senate, I know what it takes to get things done. Oakland leaders need to realize that we either go together or we don’t go at all. There is only one candidate for Mayor who will be the strong leader that unites us. That leader is Bryan Parker.”

In Oakland’s first use of ranked-choice voting in 2010, Perata won the most first-place votes, but was overtaking in subsequent rounds by Jean Quan. At Wednesday’s press conference, Perata called ranked-choice voting, “an absolute silly system,” according to reports.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

AD15 Preview: A Powder Keg Waiting to be Lit by Special Interests

MEET THE CANDIDATES Elizabeth Echols has never held elected office, but she has experience at the federal level. She served at the helm of the west coast region of the  U.S. Small Business Administration, appointed by President Barack Obama. Echols, however, doesn’t have much of a toe hold locally, but she is viewed as the choice of the Berkeley Establishment, which holds significant sway in the district’s largest area. In this race Echols has repeatedly attempted to burnish her environmental credentials, which is significant since Chevron’s Richmond refinery is within the 15th Assembly District. Tony Thurmond is opposite to Echols only when it comes to the general variety of their public service. Thrumond’s experience comes from four years on the Richmond City Council and a term on the West Contra Costa County School Board.

WHAT’S THE BEEF? During the primary and the earlier going of this race, the level of contention was all rainbows and unicorns. In fact, the seven-person primary, which Echols won with 31 percent of the vote, barely registered on the local political Richter Scale. In hindsight, a very close race in numbers and policy was bound to be a powder keg waiting to be lit and leave it to Big Oil, which menacingly hangs over part of this district, to blow up the race and potentially do damage to the entire Democratic Party in the East Bay. As of Oct. 28, an independent expenditure committee named, Alliance for California’s Tomorrow, has laid out $290,000 in support of Thurmond. The IE is funded in part by Big Oil, pharmaceutical companies and lenders, although recent contributions have come from health care interests such as the powerful California Nurses Association. IEs cannot coordinate their efforts for or against candidates, but Thurmond made a point of noting he has no connection to the group. News of IE may have severely undercut Thurmond’s credibility when it comes to the environment, but his record in Richmond shows he was willing to stand up to Chevron. Echols’ campaign quickly moved to highlight Big Oil’s backing of Thurmond’s campaign in a mailer tailored as a warning to voters. Mailers listed the IE's name and framed as a scheme by outside special interests to influence the district, it asserted, but also included a quote attributed to the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee chair. The local party endorsed Echols, but some members of the committee derided the mailer for unduly dividing Democrats in the district and argued the elected body had not authorized such an attack on one of its own. Meanwhile, conspiracy theories persists, including a purely Machiavellian maneuver by Big Oil to use its poor reputation in the district to torpedo Thurmond’s campaign by using the IE to attach some guilt by association to Thurmond.

PAST RESULTS 2014 June Primary: 1. Elizabeth Echols 21,664 (31.1%) 2. Tony Thurmond 16,963 (24.4%) 3. Pamela Price 11,989 (17.1%) 4. Rich Kinney 7,531 (10.8%) 5. Sam Kang 4,630 (6.7%) 6. Clarence Hunt 3,329 (4.8%) 7. Eugune Ruyle 2,426 (3.5%) 8. Bernt Wahl 1,132 (1.6%).

2012 General Election: 1. Nancy Skinner (D) 164,929 (86.8%) 2. Eugene Ruyle 25,167 (13.2%).

CAMPAIGN FINANCE (Through Sept. 30) Echols Cash Balance: $84,335 Since: $75,900. Thurmond $84,698; $86,849.

OUTLOOK Whoever wins will undoubtedly need to work well with Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta, the new top dog in the East Bay Assembly caucus. In fact, Bonta had already emerged as the leader of the caucus only after his first year in office, even though, colleagues like Skinner had much more seniority. Most indications, show Echols or Thurmond will have no qualms with a subordinate role. Nonetheless, this was already a tough race for two evenly-matched candidates, but the flood of IE money and Echols' ability to clearly mark the mailers for Thurmond as from a tainted IE is probably too much for his campaign to overcome.

PREDICTION 1. Echols 2. Thurmond

DOWN BALLOT: Oct. 28, 2014, 7 Days Until Election Day

Sen. Barbara Boxer backs Schaaf.
OAKLAND MAYOR Councilmember Libby Schaaf received another high-profile endorsement Tuesday, this time, from U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer. Earlier this month, Schaaf's former boss, Gov. Jerry Brown, backed her campaign...Meanwhile, on Sunday morning, Parker received the support of former NAACP President Ben Jealous. The San Francisco Chronicle says a surprise announcement scheduled by Parker's campaign for Wednesday morning will include the endorsement of former State Senate Pro Tem Don Perata. And last weekend, the inimitable Dr. Death endorsed Mayor Jean Quan's campaign as the best option for keeping Oakland's sports teams in town.

OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom doesn’t have time to debate his challenger for the office this November, Ron Nehring, but he's available to weigh-in on Oakland’s District 2 City Council race. The moderate Democrat said Monday he is endorsing Dana King to replace retiring Councilmember Pat Kernighan. King, a former KPIX television anchorperson, is also a moderate, but has no prior political experience. She is in a tight race with former Assembly candidate Abel Guillen for the seat.

CONGRESS DISTRICT 17 A hallmark of this election cycle has been the use of campaign web sites dedicated to negative attacks. During the primary in the 10th State Senate District, for example, Bob Wieckowski deployed MugShotMary.com and Mary Hayashi responded with BobProtectedRapists.com. With the tenor of the race in the 17th Congressional District quickly rising, the campaigns are turning to GoDaddy.com for domain names. Rep. Mike Honda released RightWingRo.com and Ro Khanna’s campaign has a web site based on the video game Pac-Man called PacMike.com

ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 20 Jaime Patino is part of the new wave of Republicans in the Bay Area unencumbered by a national part still fighting social issues, such as same-sex marriage. Patino says he is clearly a supporter of the right for anyone to marry who they choose. When it comes to endorsements in Alameda County, some Democrats rarely have a choice when it comes to backing an incumbent in the party. However, Union City Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci feels independent enough as a moderate Democrat, to endorse the Republican Patino over Democratic Assemblymember Bill Quirk. Patino is a Union City resident who also serves on the city’s Human Relations Commission.

It Feels Good

OAKLAND | MAYOR | Mayor Jean Quan deployed rapper Suga-T last month to spread her message for Oakland, while M.C. Hammer has yet to weigh in the mayoral election. Now, D’wayne Wiggins, a member of the 90s R&B trio Tony! Toni! Tone! has a new commercial in support of Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan.

Set to the hit song, “It Feels Good,” there is very little substance to the 30-second spot, but its conceit is simple. Kaplan is looking to attract African American voters, in addition, to urban dwellers. The entire commercial features Kaplan and Wiggins riding bikes. Wiggins, an Oakland native, also produced the short video.

A Star is Born in Oakland

OAKLAND | MAYOR | Over the past few weeks, surprisingly few Oakland mayoral candidates have unleashed a feverish charge down the stretch. The campaign’s making things happen recently are led by Councilmember Libby Schaaf, Port of Oakland Commissioner Bryan Parker, Mayor Jean Quan and Joe Tuman, in that order.

Add little-known Peter Liu to the list.

Liu, an insurance agent by trade, has no chance of winning the election, but no other candidate in the race has drawn more attention than him. And while all other campaigns are spending a fortune through mailers, lawn signs and commercial, to gain the attention of voters, Liu gained over a million eye balls Monday night to his campaign.

Liu’s outrageous platforms were lampooned on ABC’s late night talk show, Jimmy Kimmel Live. Kimmel remarked about Liu’s oddly-shaped earlobes and mocked his stance on the nexus of children, the Internet and masturbation.

Previously, Liu, referring to himself as “Overseer Liu,” challenged the Oakland City Council to follow his lead as mayor or be “intellectually bitch-slapped.”

Friday, October 24, 2014

Labor Group Calls on Khanna to Return Donations from Tech CEO Who Paid Some Workers $1.21/hr

Tech CEO Guy Gecht with Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison. Gecht was ordered by the U.S. Department of Labor to pay $40,000 in back wages to eight worker the company paid as little as $1.21 an hour.
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | The Alameda Labor Council wants congressional candidate Ro Khanna to return a maxed-out contribution to his campaign from the CEO of a Fremont tech company who paid some of its workers $1.21 an hour to install computers.

Guy Gecht, the CEO of Electronics for Imaging, contributed $2,600 to Khanna’s campaign in September 2013 to unseat South Bay Rep. Mike Honda. However, around the same time, Gecht was alleged to have paid some Indian immigrants as little as $1.21 an hour, according to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor. The company was ordered to pay over $40,000 in back wages and a $3,500 fine, according to news reports.

Josie Camacho, the executive secretary-treasurer for the Alameda Labor Council issued a stern call for Khanna to return the donation. Khanna, like Honda, is a Democrat.

“When Khanna approached us for support, he promised that he was a progressive, but we’ve long been concerned that Khanna has been acting as a tool for right-wing millionaires and conservative CEOs to push their policies,” said Camacho. “Hopefully even he can agree that that there is no room for this kind of practice in Silicon Valley. Ro should immediately refund the $2,600 donation from Gecht.”

Khanna's campaign responded, saying, "Congressman Honda seems to have just discovered that wage theft exists two weeks before an election. Further, he has had no problem taking huge amounts of money from defense contractors, big pharma, and many other special interests including PG&E--even after their criminal negligence resulted in the death of eight people. It's unfortunate that Congressman Honda is playing politics on the backs of workers."

However, this is not the first time Khanna’s large group of wealthy tech contributors has reflected poorly on the candidate. Last April, Khanna donated $5,200 in contributions from tech entrepreneur Gurbaksh Chahal to a non-profit that helps women and children victimized by domestic violence. Chahal faced 45 felony counts of battery against a woman, which was also taped by video cameras. The charges were later greatly reduced.

In addition, some contributors to Khanna’s campaign asked for their money back after claiming they only gave money to him in 2011 under the auspices he would run to replace Pete Stark in the 15th Congressional district, upon his retirement.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tuman, Parker, Ruby Declare All For One And One For All in Oakland Mayor's Race

Joe Tuman, Courtney Ruby and Bryan Parker at a press conference Thursday in front of City Hall saying each of their candidacies are outsider bids for the mayor's office next month. PHOTOS/Steven Tavares
OAKLAND | MAYOR | The close second-tier of Oakland mayoral candidates, referring to themselves as outsiders, say the insiders, incidentally the trio leading in recent polls, don’t deserve another chance at leading the city.

Joe Tuman, center, fields questions from
reporters on the steps of City Hall.
Mayoral candidates Joe Tuman, Bryan Parker and Courtney Ruby, buoyed by a poll released Wednesday showing a potential five-way dead heat in the race with less than two weeks to go, say they have forming a “coalition” to, instead, put one of them in the mayor’s office and not Jean Quan or Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan and Libby Schaaf.

“Their experience hasn’t offered much,” said Tuman at a press conference Thursday afternoon in front of City Hall. Tuman said the list of errors by the three in the past is numerous. He slammed the City Council’s handling of the most recent waste contract, described Kaplan as “bungling” the Coliseum lease deal with the Oakalnd Athletics, criticized the steps leading to placing Measure Z, the city’s public safety parcel tax, on the fall ballot and Quan’s response to the Occupy Oakland encampment at Frank Ogawa Plaza. Tuman’s campaign, according to the independent poll, is inching closer to the top three containing Kaplan, Schaaf and Quan. “Each of us brings a different skill set,” added Tuman.

Oakland City Auditor Courtney Ruby's 
campaign has languished in seventh
place, according to polls.
Parker’s campaign, according to the poll, is also improving; at least, within striking distance to the top three when taking account the poll’s margin of error. Parker defended his outsider status despite being a member of the Port of Oakland Commission appointed by Quan. He told reporters the poor financial situation at the port, to him, “showed how how broken city government is.”

Ruby, who serves as the city auditor, said she is an “insider that is an outsider. As city auditor, I’m not part of the problem.” Ruby, however, despite her office’s record for uncovering abuse at City Hall, has failed to catch any momentum during the campaign and may be the least likely to prosper from the affiliation with Tuman and Parker.

Throughout the campaign, it has been clear the threesome share similar visions for Oakland that include bolstering the police force and greater transparency at City Hall. The partnership is also necessitated by ranked-choice voting which encourages coalitions among candidates. Four years ago, in the first use of ranked-choice voting in Oakland, Quan and Kaplan joined forces to edge out Don Perata for the mayor's office, despite the former State Senate pro tem receiving the most first-place votes.

Tuman said he and Ruby first started talking about a potential partnership about a month ago. “It happened organically,” said Tuman. After some of the forums, the three informally chatted about the potential partnership, he added.

“We were all naturally thinking, how can we do something different?” said Parker. “We saw similarities in each other and it was natural. Frankly, people that are running for mayor are not the kind of people you can tell what to do if it didn’t make sense,” said Parker.

With most polls consistently placing Tuman higher in the polls over Parker and Ruby, the coalition may slightly favor Tuman, but Parker disagrees. Instead, any success the threesome receives may be designed to undercut Schaaf, whose campaign has recently caught some momentum. Parker believes Tuman voters, who may be initially inclined to give Schaaf their second place vote, will instead gravitate to his campaign along with his supporters backing Tuman for second.

“Who has the greater trade? What this [coalition] does is impact the race fundamentally,” said Parker. “We are competing against each other and, yes, we go into that with the knowledge whoever can get ahead of the other is going to benefit. I think we’re betting in the end that will be us.”

Honda Puts Up His Dukes As Seniors Group Questions Khanna

Rep. Mike Honda wearing boxing gloves at a press conference Thursday in Newark. PHOTOS/Steven Tavares
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | If Ro Khanna is moving to the right, Rep. Mike Honda is choosing to stick with the seniors on the left, precisely those concerned by attempts to whittle away more benefits from the Republican-controlled House. Wearing a pair of boxing gloves given to him by the director of the National Committee to Protect Social Security and Medicare, Honda furthered a line of attack to paint Khanna, also a Democrat, as amendable to cuts to their monthly benefits.

Honda addressing a group of seniors at its
campaign office in Newark.
Honda, though, despite the gloves, did not attack Khanna during the press conference in Newark, but Max Richtman, who heads the advocacy group, questioned Khanna’s allegiance to Social Security and Medicare. “I worry about his opponent’s positions,” said Richtman of Khanna. “I can’t quite put my finger on what his positions are because he’s pretty vague about them.”

Richtman also referenced Khanna's connections to campaign contributors, some, he said, have shown a willingness in the past to back privatization of Social Security. "I’m troubled by the company he keeps. They have a reputation," said Richtman. "When you have that kind of support coming from those quarters, you owe those supporters something."

The impetus for today's event runs in tandem with a recent television ad from Honda’s campaign which reiterates Khanna’s link to wealthy Silicon Valley contributors, in addition, to suggestions Khanna’s election could threaten some entitlement benefits for seniors. In addition, a recent independent poll showed the race in the 17th District is tightening with Honda leading Khanna by only two points with two weeks to go until Election Day.

Khanna’s campaign, however, has fought back against the assertion regarding Social Security and Medicare, by labeling the attack as “100 percent baseless,” and calling for an “honest conversation” on the issue. “How are we going to make sure that we have no cuts in Social Security benefits and strengthen Social Security, but be honest about its solvency?” Khanna has said.

Richtman's group has consistently given Honda a perfect score on its annual rankings of congress members and their votes on legislation maintaining or increasing entitlements to seniors. Richtman has recently been traveling the country to help other Democrats in tough races, including New Hampshire, Alaska, Nebraska and Illinois, he said.

Incidentally, today’s photo opportunity featuring boxing gloves to depict the candidate as a fighter for their cause is not unique. Earlier this week, Richtman also presented gloves to New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who is also in a tough race for re-election.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Is Joel Young Running Scared?

AC TRANSIT | AT-LARGE SEAT | Since 2011, AC Transit Board Director At-Large Joel Young has racked up a list of notable misdeeds unmatched in East Bay politics. Two years after being appointed to the seat, he began what was then believed to be a promising run for the state Assembly. But one morning in March 2011, Young's girlfriend arrived at his apartment to find him in bed with another woman. The resulting argument led to allegations by the girlfriend that Young struck her in the face. Young denied wrongdoing and an Alameda County Superior Court judge dismissed a restraining order request by Young's ex, but not before stating that he didn't believe Young's story.

Then, a little more than a year later, during his run for the Assembly, Young spit in the eye of Jason Overman, who is Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan's current mayoral campaign manager (Young had been appointed to replace Kaplan on the AC Transit board). Young lost the Assembly race and returned to the board, but last year, another damaging act of alleged impropriety led his colleagues to censure him for improperly using his position to enrich himself at the public's expense.

Yet, the totality of Young's notorious behavior did nothing to dissuade the leaders of the powerful Alameda Labor Council from clearing the field for Young and nearly giving him their endorsement this summer before members of the Service Employees Union International (SEIU) Local 1021, another group that has contempt for Young, intervened to block the endorsement...


Monday, October 20, 2014

About That 'Strange Mailer,' It Wasn't From Me, Says Schaaf

Quite a few Oakland voters received this hit piece from a unknown group calling themselves Citizen for Oakland. Its backers are made up of some pro-business residents and a few Libby Schaaf donors.
OAKLAND | MAYOR | Two things are clear from the recent Citizens for Oakland mailer. Mayoral candidate Libby Schaaf was not behind the ploy to get supporters of strong second-tier campaign to back her and, second, it's god-awful piece of political advertisement.

Schaaf's campaign was succinct last Friday when it tweeted, "The @libbyformayor campaign had NOTHING to do w[ith] that strange mailer." The tweet was in response to Dan Siegel's campaign hinting Schaaf's and others were behind it. "Polls show us leading @bryanparker2014 in all polls and @joe4mayor in some but @libbyformayor mailer says we have no chance. #deception," they tweeted.

Another reason Schaaf is not involved in the mailer is that it serves her no purpose and potentially harms what has been the most effective few weeks of her campaign. Recent polls continue to show her within striking distance of winning the Nov. 4 election and Gov. Jerry Brown's endorsement Oct. 6 may have been the impetus for additional voters to start looking at her potential to unseat Mayor Jean Quan.

However, some of the people behind Citizens for Oakland are Schaaf supporters and donors. Which, if anything, suggests to Schaaf, sometimes you need to worry more about your friends than your enemies.

As for the mailer, it is unwieldy and underhanded in many cases. What pushes credulity is the assertion Quan and another mayoral candidate, Rebecca Kaplan, are City Hall insiders, but Schaaf, who has served the last four years with the pair on the City Council, is not.

Furthermore, this insider/outsider line of attack has been used often during the campaign, especially by candidates Joe Tuman and Bryan Parker. But, the comments always link together Quan, Kaplan and Schaaf, as they should. Last Wednesday, Parker's campaign even sent a press release labeling the trio as "insiders."

In this mailer, however, which features a good bit of clunky grammar, the group says if you desire change at City Hall, you should vote--in no particular order--Schaaf, Tuman and Parker.

Most likely, this direct-mail piece sent to over 50,000 Oakland voters, according to reports, is a response to polling released last week that not only showed Kaplan, Quan and Schaaf leading the pack, but more importantly, that the Kaplan-Quan connection could put either one in the mayor's office.

A Case of Newspaper Endorsement Confusion in the Oakland Mayor's Race

The San Francisco Chronicle has showed very little attention to Oakland's mayoral race. Nevertheless, other local media outlets appear similarly confused over which candidate it should endorse this fall.
OAKLAND | MAYOR | Six Bay Area news outlets, six different endorsements for Oakland's next mayor. The confusion among editorial boards might not be that odd. In fact, they may be taking a cue from Oakland voters. Is the problem too many good candidates or too few campaigns that are differentiating themselves from the pack? Nonetheless, picking a mayoral candidate for endorsement is not like a Fantasy Football draft, you're allowed to pick the same quarterback.

The San Francisco Chronicle tabbed Bryan Parker. The Bay Area News Group went with Joe Tuman. Before it folded last week, the San Francisco Bay Guardian picked Rebecca Kaplan. The East Bay Express chose Libby Schaaf with Mayor Jean Quan a close second. The Bay Area Reporter went further and backed Quan all the way, while the Oakland Post took Dan Siegel.

Here's a sampling of each paper's rationale for their choice:

EAST BAY EXPRESS FOR SCHAAF "She's extremely smart, has an admirable work ethic, is dedicated to open and transparent government, and has the charisma and communication skills to bring together differing factions in the city in order to find solutions to Oakland's numerous problems." NOTE: I participated in the Express' endorsement interviews and putting aside political ideology, Schaaf was indeed impressive. But, then again, the others interviewed for the endorsement were very good, too.

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE FOR PARKER "Our choice in this field is Bryan Parker, a business executive and port commissioner who possesses a nice blend of economic acumen, interpersonal skills, and appreciation of the causes and effects of what all top challengers list as a No. 1 priority: crime. He rightly cited a “crisis in leadership” at City Hall and pledged to “show up with my lunch bucket” to instill a “complete culture change” in the bureaucracy."

BAY AREA NEWS GROUP FOR TUMAN "Tuman is the standout, speaking directly about how the city must start responsibly meeting its financial obligations. The city's pension and retiree health plans are underfunded by $2.4 billion. If Oakland leaders make contractual promises to city employees, they must set aside sufficient money to fund them, he says."

SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN FOR KAPLAN "Unlike in San Francisco, where it’s sometimes tough for our progressive-minded editorial team to get excited about most candidates running for local office, we’ve got legitimately high hopes for both of our picks for the Oakland mayor’s race… Rebecca Kaplan…offer[s] compelling visions for a diverse and dynamic Oakland at a time when the city is in need of strong leadership. Kaplan, a LGBT candidate who gets around the city by bicycle and has a keen interest in sustainability, has a decade of public service involvement, including holding the at-large seat on the Oakland City Council."

OAKLAND POST FOR SIEGEL "There is no shortage of candidates running to be Oakland’s next mayor. That is because Oakland is hungry for change. We believe that the candidate best suited for the job is Dan Siegel...If we want real change--and we do--a fighter with a successful history in navigating Oakland institutions, someone with deep roots and a long track record of doing good things for our city, then Dan Siegel is our first choice. Siegel has been involved in Bay Area social justice movements for over 40 years. A civil rights attorney and activist, who risked his life for our rights, Siegel is the only candidate with a proven track record of fighting for civil and human rights."

BAY AREA REPORTER FOR QUAN "The rap on Quan is that she's been ineffective, but a look at her record shows that on balance Oakland is headed in the right direction. The city's restaurant and nightlife scenes are bustling; housing projects are in progress, and new residents are moving to the city, due in part to the high cost of living in San Francisco. Quan has been successful in securing federal funds for new police officers and money to redevelop the Oakland Army Base...Optimism, of course, won't put the city back on track. But Quan, who's seen four balanced budgets passed and has presided over a city that is often overlooked, is the best person to continue that trajectory."