3.7 MILLION VISITORS SERVED. EVERYWHERE SINCE 2009

Friday, December 23, 2016

2016 EAST BAY YEAR-IN-REVIEW, PART 3 - Khanna heads to Congress; Oakland moves to keep the Raiders; Ghost Ship tragedy; East Bay responds to Trump

SEPTEMBER
Sen. Bernie Sanders
>>>Progressive darling and former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders puts his imprint on the Berkeley mayoral race by endorsing Councilmember Jesse Arreguin.

>>>San Leandro City Council moves to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020, two full years quicker than the state mandate of 2022. Starting in July 2017, the city’s minimum wage will bump from $10 to $12 an hour.

“Dobbs has an explosive temper and fails to take responsibility for these outbursts."
-A scathing report on Hayward school superintendent Stan “Data” Dobbs, released a day after the school board fires him, shows a negative portrayal of his three years at the helm of Hayward schools.

>>>In the wake of 49er Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand during the National Anthem, Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan chooses to sit during the Pledge of Allegiance at an Oakland City Council meeting.

Honda's campaign announcing its lawsuit
against Khanna and Parvizshahi
>>>Rep. Mike Honda sues Ro Khanna and his campaign manager Brian Parviszhahi for illegally accessing Honda’s digital database containing valuable donor data. Later in the day, Parvizshahi resigns.

>>>The race in the 17th Congressional District gets even hotter when Rep. Mike Honda's campaign calls Ro Khanna a “Russian hacker,” in a press release.

>>>Gov. Jerry Brown signs legislation that requires the East Bay’s Eden Health District to spend at least 80 percent of its operating budget on health care-related grants. The fate of the district is still up in the air through the end of the year with hearings possibly leading to its dissolution beginning in late January 2017.

OCTOBER
>>>The possibility of the Las Vegas Raiders becomes very real after the Nevada Legislature approves $750 million in public financing for a new stadium on the Vegas Strip. The news puts the stadium effort in Oakland into high-gear.

>>>“Eric Swalwell marries a woman”

“Being called spineless is a violation of the rules.”
-With the hint of a playful smile, Oakland Councilmember Abel Guillen said in response to Councilmember Desley Brooks during a rules committee meeting after she called him spineless for not moving forward with a censure hearing against Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney for misconduct detailed in a grand jury report.

>>>Emails posted by WikiLeaks from Democratic Party insider John Podesta shows Ro Khanna’s campaign sought Hillary Clinton’s early endorsement. Another batch of emails shows Khanna’s campaign also wanted Clinton to appear at his 2015 wedding in Cleveland.

>>>Alameda Councilmember Tony Daysog is hit with a highly negative and likely illegal pair of political mailers sent by a still-unknown group. Neither mailer contained a “paid for” clause. One portrays Daysog as a Republican, the other alleging pay-to-play over campaign contributions.

>>>President Barack Obama gets involved in two local East Bay contests when he endorses Democratic 16th Assembly candidate Cheryl Cook-Kallio in late October and then backs Oakland City Council candidate Peggy Moore just days before the Nov. 8 election. Neither does much good on Election Day.

NOVEMBER
Ro Khanna declaring victory
>>>Ro Khanna finally breaks through and clinches a seat in Congress with a decisive 20-point victory over Rep. Mike Honda. He later vows to be one of the most progressive voices in Congress.

>>>A ho-hum election in Oakland yields the status quo as the four City Council incumbents all easily win re-election, as does the Oakland school board.

>>>Alameda Councilmember Tony Daysog loses re-election and is replaced by the labor-backed Malia Vella. Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft wins re-election, but voters in Alameda strongly cast aside Measure M1, the rent control initiative.

>>>Republican Assemblymember Catharine Baker beats Democratic rival Cheryl Cook-Kallio to retain her seat in the 16th District and Nancy Skinner defeats Sandre Swanson to represent the East Bay’s 9th State Senate District. In addition, Jesse Arreguin becomes Berkeley’s first Latino mayor and youngest ever.

>>>In Fremont, Lily Mei registers one of the biggest surprises of the local election season by defeating incumbent Mayor Bill Harrison in close race.

>>>FINAL GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS 


“Who could imagine that the bank that represented the values of honesty and fair-dealings for more than 160 years in California would now become an outlaw institution?"
-State Sen. Steve Glazer during a banking oversight committee criticizing Wells Fargo following its scandal involving the creation of millions of false accounts.

>>>Rep. Barbara Lee loses out on becoming vice chair of the House Democratic caucus by just two votes. The post, instead, goes to fellow Californian Rep. Linda Sanchez.

>>>Oakland and Berkeley reaffirm their sanctuary city status in defiance of President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric involving undocumented immigrants. By years end, Alameda will begin to discuss becoming a sanctuary city.

DECEMBER
>>>A warehouse fire in Oakland’s Fruitvale District claims the lives of 36 people during a concert event at a venue named the “Ghost Ship.” Many of those tragically killed were part of the city’s bustling music and arts scene. The aftermath of the warehouse fire puts a harsh light on the city’s code enforcement policies, in addition, to the leadership of its fire chief and Mayor Libby Schaaf.

>>>Assemblymember Rob Bonta previews his 2017 legislative agenda by unveiling the framework of a bill that aims to reform the state’s bail system.

>>>Rep. Eric Swalwell co-authors a bill that could lead to a bipartisan commission for investigating Russia’s interference during the presidential election.

“If this team does not remain here, there will be a black hole in the city of Oakland.”
-Former Raider Marcus Allen after Oakland and Alameda County elected officials finally unveil the framework of a proposal to build a new 55,000-seat stadium for the Raiders at the existing Coliseum complex. The term sheet with Ronnie Lott’s investment group is approved by both bodies, but it is unclear whether it will pass muster with the NFL or team owner Mark Davis.
____
2016 YEAR-IN-REVIEW

PART 2 - Oakland police scandal erupts, coal shipments banned; June election brings few surprises 

PART 3 - Khanna heads to Congress; Oakland moves to keep the Raiders; Ghost Ship tragedy; East Bay responds to Trump

Thursday, December 22, 2016

2016 EAST BAY POLITICAL YEAR-IN-REVIEW, PART 2 - Oakland police scandal erupts, coal shipments banned; June elections brings few surprises

MAY
>>>A major police scandal breaks in Oakland after a then-underage sex worker says she was involved sexually with numerous Oakland police officers. Officers from other local jurisdictions were also involved with the woman known as “Celeste Guap.” Police Chief Sean Whent resigns and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf seeks to identify the leakers of the scandal.


Mike Honda, center, and Ro Khanna
>>>During the only candidates forum held during the June primary in the hard-fought 17th Congressional District race—and destined to be the only meeting during the entire campaign season—the group of challengers to Rep. Mike Honda ignore the incumbent and instead repeatedly bash Ro Khanna.

>>>Rep. Mark DeSaulnier reveals in a newspaper interview that he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2015, but the cancer is in remission. DeSaulnier would continue his service without pause and easily win re-election in November.

>>>Assemblymember Rob Bonta’s primary opponent, Republican Roseann Breault-Slonsky, becomes a national convention delegate for Donald Trump. Meanwhile, Republican Assemblymember Catharine Baker, in a tough and expensive race in the moderate 16th District against Democrat Cheryl Cook-Kallio. is forced to disavow any support for Trump.

“He owes me money. He didn’t pay me. It’s the principle of the thing. It’s dishonest.”
-Bill Ferguson, a former staffer for previous Ro Khanna congressional campaigns says he was stiffed $6,000 for back wages. Khanna calls the incident “extortion.”

>>>A congressional amendment that would have barred contractors from receiving federal contracts if they discriminate against members of the LGBT community fails by a single vote and Rep. Eric Swalwell is one of eight who missed the vote. He later blames it on a “family health emergency.”

>>>A campaign email from Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty on behalf of Supervisor Nate Miley’s re-election appears to show coordination with an independent expenditure committee formed for Miley by 94-year-old Mary Warren. Warren would later pass away in August.

JUNE
Nancy Skinner and Sandre Swanson
>>>In the last two weeks of the campaign, oil and tobacco interests spend a $138,000 in support of Ninth state Senate District candidate Sandre Swanson in a last-ditch effort to tighten up the race against favorite Nancy Skinner and two other candidates. It doesn’t work as Skinner tops Swanson by 18 points in the primary, but both advance to the general in November.

>>>A hard-hitting mailer sent on behalf of Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley just days before Election Day slams challenger Bryan Parker. It suggests Miley is nervous, yet he ends up trouncing Parker by nearly 25 points.

>>>Ro Khanna registers an upset in the June primary by topping incumbent Rep. Mike Honda by just under two points. The result puts Honda’s re-election in very serious doubt.

>>>Hayward opts for the status quo and re-elects Councilmembers Francisco Zermeno, Elisa Marquez, Al Mendall, and returns former Councilmember Mark Salinas to the dais.

>>>FINAL JUNE PRIMARY RESULTS

“Backroom dealing cannot be the standard by which the city of Oakland is governed.”
-An Alameda County grand jury, in its annual report, buries Oakland Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney for using her position to influence a townhouse project slated to be built next to property.

>>>East Bay Reps. Barbara Lee, Eric Swalwell, Mike Honda participate in an almost unprecedented sit-in on the House floor in protest of Republicans stymieing a vote on gun control legislation.

>>>Oakland City Council formally approves a ban on coal shipments through the city. The developer of the former Oakland Army Base, Phil Tagami, threatens a lawsuit and follows through in December.

>>>Hayward’s embattled, yet colorful school superintendent Stan “Data” Dobbs is placed on paid leave after fallout from the Ray McDonald school visit builds.

JULY
>>>Fran David, Hayward’s city manager since 2010, announces her retirement, effective the end of September. Her assistant Kelly McAdoo is named her replacement later in the month.


“What happened tonight in #Dallas is sick & wrong. #BlackLivesMatter but this isn’t justice. We must be better than this.”
-For the “How did he get away with this” file, Rep. Eric Swalwell’s initial reaction in a tweet regarding the Dallas shootings that killed five police officers is Black Lives Matter was behind attack.

>>>A rent control measure offered by the Alameda Renters Coalition makes the November ballot, but a rival measure banning rent control, offered by island landlords suffers an embarrassing fate and fails to gain enough valid signatures for inclusion on the ballot. Meanwhile the Alameda City Council places it own rent measure on the ballot, which some say is meant to confuse voters.

>>>Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer writes a series of odd and poorly-written rebuttals to city-backed ballot measures. In one, she appears to call out Alameda’s city manager.

AUGUST
>>>Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, in a bid to remake the Oakland City Council, backs challengers running against Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan and Noel Gallo. The ballsy move falls flat as Peggy Moore and Viola Gonzales fail to come close to upending the incumbents.

>>>Hayward school board member John Taylor is found to have improperly used district resources for his campaign earlier in the year for the Hayward City Council. He later admits using the school district print shop for campaign signage and flyers.

>>>Amazingly, there will be just one contested race in all of San Leandro. That includes three seats for the City Council and four for the school board.

"I think they should clean their house first.”
-Hayward school board member Luis Reynoso on a bid by the Hayward City Council to participate in a political action committee that seeks to defeat three incumbent school board members, including Reynoso.

>>>It is learned Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer improperly intervened in a incident between an Alameda resident and the police officer who two weeks prior had arrested the mayor’s husband for a DUI. Her husband will file a legal complaint in September against the city and police department over his arrest.

>>>Hayward Police Chief Diane Stuart is placed on administrative leave for an undisclosed matter. Through the end of the year, the public still doesn’t know what the city’s investigation is about, but in December, Stuart announces her retirement.

2016 YEAR-IN-REVIEW

PART 2 - Oakland police scandal erupts, coal shipments banned; June election brings few surprises; 

PART 3 - Khanna heads to Congress; Oakland moves to keep the Raiders; Ghost Ship tragedy; East Bay responds to Trump

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

2016 EAST BAY POLITICAL YEAR-IN-REVIEW, PART 1 - Primary races begin to heat up; Ray McDonald fiasco blows up in Hayward; rents continue to rise

JANUARY
>>>During a frigid Alameda City Council meeting that lasted until 4 a.m., struggling renters win an extension for a moratorium on rent increases that will lead the way to an ordinance approved in March.

“If the NRA wants guns to be easily stolen, then they don't care about safety--just about selling more guns--even if people die.”
-Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan on city legislation she proposed in January in response to reports of law enforcement weapons being stolen from official vehicles, along with strong pushback by the National Rifle Association over her resolution.


Rep. Eric Swalwell
>>>As his guest, Rep. Swalwell brings Fremont Police Chief Richard Lucero, an advocate of police surveillance, to President Barack Obama’s last State of the Union address.


>>>State Sen. Steve Glazer and his daughter have a public conversation on Twitter about tampons and an Assembly bill to remove the sales tax on feminine hygiene products. The bill is ultimately stymied and its author SoCal Assemblymember Cristina Garcia vows to reintroduce it in 2017. 

>>>As Alameda’s rent discussion heats up it is learned local law enforcement dressed in plainclothes were monitoring residents during a city council meeting on Jan. 5.

Nate Miley and Bryan Parker
>>>Bryan Parker, a candidate for Alameda County supervisor, gets his opponent Supervisor Nate Miley’s attention by raising $117,000 in campaign finance. At this point, Miley’s early campaign coffers are basically empty.

>>>SEIU Local 1021 warns the Hayward City Council not to “rip the scab” and vote to challenge a state finding that the city illegally imposed a 2014 wage cut on some city workers. Nevertheless, the city appeals the decision.

>>>Alameda County bigwigs meet for a pre-endorsement meeting in Oakland and take a pass on endorsing either of the prominent Dems in the Ninth State Senate race with Nancy Skinner and Sandre Swanson. Rep. Mike Honda fails by two votes to win the early endorsement.

>>>Alameda names Jill Keimach as its next city manager, but its Mayor Trish Spencer votes no.

FEBRUARY
>>>Some in unincorporated Castro Valley want a tad more representation than just an advisory committee hand-picked by its Supervisor Nate Miley, but the Alameda County Board of Supervisors nixes the idea for an elected Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Committee including this exchange...

“You’re some of the most unappreciative people I’ve seen in my entire life.” 
-Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty told Castro Valley residents who asserted county leaders don’t sufficiently represent their interests.

>>>After losing the Los Angeles sweepstakes, the Raiders, Oakland and Alameda County leaders agree to a one-year lease for the team to play the 2016 season at the Coliseum, with options for 2017 and 2018.

>>>South Bay Assemblymember Kansen Chu proposes to literally alter time with legislation to eliminate daylight savings time in the state. The bill languishes in committee for the year.

>>>President Barack Obama decides against making an endorsement in the CA-17 race between Democrats Rep. Mike Honda and Ro Khanna. He had backed Honda in 2014.

“You know, Rebecca has always been kind of a lazy legislator."
-Former Oakland Mayor Jean Quan responding to a hot rumor that she is looking to challenge for Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan’s at-large seat in November. Quan does not commit, but slams her former council colleague.

>>>At the state Democratic Party convention in San Jose, Rep. Mike Honda wins the party’s exclusive endorsement, but not without the sighting of a controversial mailer circulating that depicts Ro Khanna as a puppet of the Republican Party. The creators of the mailer are still unknown.

MARCH
Ray McDonald
>>>Former 49er Ray McDonald, due to stand trial for rape in April, is allowed to speak to underprivileged students at Hayward’s Tennyson High School, igniting a national stir and finger-pointing among Hayward school administrators.

>>>The Alameda Renters Coalition, the grassroots group leading the push for rent control on the island, officially files its rent control ballot measure with the city, but not before the interim city manager calls the cops on about 15 activists inside City Hall.

>>>East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta attempts a bid for the powerful state speaker’s post, but falls short to SoCal Assemblymember Anthony Rendon.

“It wasn’t just the tanks and the national guard on the streets of my community when I was much younger in the 1960s. But I look at his presidency as a time when the nation turned in a profoundly wrong direction.”
-State Sen. Loni Hancock with no fond memories of Ronald Reagan following former First Lady Nancy Reagan's passing in March.

>>>While the state is still parched during the on-going drought, Assemblymember Rob Bonta and State Sen. Bob Wieckowski travel to Australia on an all-expense paid trip to study the continent’s solutions to their own drought. Of course, the trip is courtesy of lobbyists and Sacramento special interests.

>>>After numerous delays on BART in Contra Costa County, State Sen. Steve Glazer enters a days-longTwitter war with the person who runs BART’s social media feed. After Glazer’s claims BART workers make too much money, Taylor Huckaby tells him, “You should ask @realDonaldTrump for an endorsement - he thinks American workers are paid too much too.”

>>>Well-know civil rights attorney Gloria Allred calls Hayward superintendent Stan “Data” Dobbs’s decision to allow the embattled Ray McDonald to speak at Tennyson High, “highly inappropriate.”

APRIL
>>>SEIU Local 1021 spends $140,000 to place a measure on the June ballot in Hayward that strikes at the heart of political entrenchment on the city council by moving its municipal elections from June to November. Measure C is easily approved by voters and will start in November 2018.

“He should be ashamed of himself for running.”
-Then-Alameda County Democratic Party Central Committee member Howard Egerman on county supervisorial challenger Bryan Parker during an endorsement meeting in April. The group overwhelmingly backed Supervisor Nate Miley for re-election.

Mike Honda
Rep. Mike Honda gets into Twitter war with ESPN analyst Curt Schilling after the congressman calls on the sports network to fire the former major league pitcher for comments made about North Carolina’s controversial bathroom bill. Schilling then called Honda a “coward.”

>>>The Oakland Tribune is no more, at least, as a masthead in the East Bay. The Bay Area News Group, in a reshuffling, rebrands the 142-year-old paper as the East Bay Times. Hayward’s Daily Review title is also axed.

>>>Rep. Eric Swalwell hopes to help Alameda County supervisorial candidate Bryan Parker make a splash in his bid to unseat Supervisor Nate Miley when he offers an endorsement of the challenger’s campaign.

"I would love to see the day Libby Schaaf puts her white privilege aside.”
-Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks said during a committee meeting in April after the mayor’s office acknowledges an error that could have resulted in the loss of up to $2 million in grant funding for youth job training.
______

2016 YEAR-IN-REVIEW
PART 1 - Primary races begin to heat up; Ray McDonald fiasco blows up in Hayward; rents continue to rise

PART 2 - Oakland police scandal erupts, coal shipments banned; June election brings few surprises

PART 3 - Khanna heads to Congress; Oakland moves to keep the Raiders; Ghost Ship tragedy; East Bay responds to Trump

State Senate newcomer Nancy Skinner named majority whip

State Sen. Nancy Skinner will also chair one
other committee, serve on four others.
LEGISLATURE | East Bay State Sen. Nancy Skinner was tabbed by Pro Tem Kevin de Leon Wednesday to become the Democratic majority whip. In addition to becoming the party's enforcer and vote-counter for state Senate Democrats, Skinner was also named chair of the Public Safety Committee.

The list of assignments is impressive for the freshman state senator who served six years in the Assembly before defeated fellow Democrat Sandre Swanson in the Ninth District last November. 

Skinner also served as chair of the public safety committee in the Assembly and had campaigned on a hope she would gain the same role in the state Senate. She will also serve as chair for a budget subcommittee also pertaining to public safety and the judiciary. 

In addition, Skinner will serve as a member on four other committees, including budget and fiscal review; energy, utilities and communications; environmental quality; transportation and housing.  

State Sen. Bob Wieckowski, who represents much of central and southern Alameda County, in addition to Santa Clara County, was named chair of the Environmental Quality Committee, in addition to chair of the budget subcommittee chair on health and human services. Similarly, Wieckowski was named as member to four other committees including, budget and fiscal review; judiciary; legislative ethics; and transportation and housing.

In addition to Skinner, Orinda State Sen. Steve Glazer was also given a meaty charimanship. De Leon chose the moderate Democrat to helm the Governmental Organization Committee. The standing committee oversees any legislation pertaining to gambling, alcohol, public safety emergencies and notably, issues surrounding the state's legalization of cannabis.

Glazer was also chosen to served on the budget and fiscal review committee, along with the budget subcommittee on state administration and general government; business, professions and economic development; human services; and insurance. 

Alameda to study becoming a sanctuary city, hopefully before Trump inauguration

ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | With some sense of urgency, the Alameda City Council unanimously voted Tuesday night to move forward an early proposal to become a sanctuary city. Included in the council instruction is for city staff to prepare a report on the matter, hopefully, before President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated on Jan. 20. But whether the timeframe can be met is unknown.

“Our council needs to weigh-in and say, ‘We’re putting our stake in the ground. We’re going to stand to protect our most vulnerable people,’” said Councilmember Jim Oddie, the author of the sanctuary city referral. However, it is unclear whether a staff report will be ready before Trump’s inauguration.

City Manager Jill Keimach expressed uncertainty whether the short turnaround time—roughly seven days—will hinder the compilation of a suitable report. A discussion on sanctuary cities may not occur until early February, said Keimach.

Oddie said he could never live with himself if some of Trump’s heated rhetoric against undocumented immigrants and Muslims were actually implement while he stood idle. Around 80 percent of Alamedans voted against Trump. “There’s no mandate for breaking up families, terrorizing children and deporting valued members of our community,” said Oddie.

The referral offered Tuesday includes instructions for the Alameda Police Department and other city departments to refuse to honor or expend its resources for any request by the Trump administration that include mass arrests, internment or the registration of individuals based on their religious beliefs. It also asks for an analysis of possible financial impacts to the city for defying such federal requests.

The city’s police department already has an existing policy protecting undocumented immigrants against coordinating with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Councilmember Frank Matarrese said he worries the Constitution could be violated by the incoming administration and urged for not only a city council resolution but possibly putting the police department’s policies into city law.

“It’s practical and already an operating policy and there’s no convincing the police that it has to be done because it’s their policy,” said Matarrese. He added, codifying the police department’s policy into law will remain past Alameda Police Chief Paul Rolleri’s time in command.

Matarrese, and other councilmembers urged the city administration to be transparent about future requests from the federal government, for instance, hypothetically, a demand for data from the city’s license plate readers, video from its police body cameras “or any other insidious request that’s going to be used for things that are unconstitutional.”

Several public speakers voiced strong opposition to the proposal Tuesday night. Alameda resident Brian Kennedy displayed a large photograph of Kate Steinle, who was murdered last year in San Francisco by an undocumented immigrant with a lengthy criminal record. Steinle’s death was a major early campaign talking point for Trump, who strongly opposes sanctuary cities. “Because of this policy, which you are trying to bring here, is costing American lives and she’s not the only one,” said Kennedy.

And not every councilmember viewed the sanctuary city issue with as much urgency. Mayor Trish Spencer voted to move along the sanctuary city referral, but preferred for the issue to include the city’s Social Service Human Relations Board, which held a meeting on the topic last month.

Doing so, however, would likely slow down the process for enacting legislation, said Oddie. “We need to take the man at his word,” Oddie said of Trump and suggestions he would immediately begin deporting undocumented immigrants shortly after his inauguration. “I don’t think we can afford to wait.”

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Hayward police chief, currently under investigation, opts for retirement

Hayward Police Chief Diane Stuart is
retiring, effective immediately.
HAYWARD | Hayward is now in the market for a new police chief, but we still don’t know why. Police Chief Diane Stuart, currently on leave pending an investigation into an unknown matter, is retiring, the city announced Wednesday.

Stuart’s retirement is effective immediately, said Hayward City Manager Kelly McAdoo. Stuart was planning to retire in the spring, according to a statement, after 26 years in law enforcement. She had served as Hayward police chief since 2011.

“Chief Stuart’s only interest is to ensure that members of her Department are able to continue serving the Hayward community safely and without the unfortunate distractions of the last few months,” said a joint statement from Stuart and McAdoo.

Meanwhile, there is still no information regarding why Stuart, formerly Diane Urban, was placed on paid administrative leave last August. Rumors have been flying over exactly what is being alleged of Stuart and city officials have been uncommonly tight-lipped.

The city’s refusal to provide information regarding the matter, in accordance with state public records requests, was recently met with a legal complaint filed earlier this month by KQED.

The city said Wednesday that Stuart has not viewed the investigation into her alleged action, but again reiterated the inquiry was triggered by an anonymous letter. Hayward city officials are treating the investigation as a personnel matter, which could shield Stuart by citing employee privacy laws, primarily those involving law enforcement officials.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Placing their trust in Ronnie Lott, Alameda County supervisors agree to Raiders stadium term sheet

NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott addressing the
Alameda County Board of Supervisors Tuesday
morning in Oakland.
ALCO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS |
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors agreed to signing a term sheet with a group led by Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott to begin negotiations for a $1.3 billion football stadium in Oakland. The Oakland City Council is due to also discuss the group’s proposal Tuesday night during a day when mixed signals were given by a NFL official to loyal fans monitoring the fate of the Raiders in Oakland.

After more than three hours of discussion and public comments, Alameda County supervisors mostly voiced acceptance for the proposed term sheet offered by Lott and Fortress Investment Group, LLC. Several officials noted the county’s exposure is solely linked to the disposition of the land under the current Coliseum complex, estimated to be worth $150 million, according to a county staff report. The Coliseum is owned and jointly-run by the city of Oakland and Alameda County. The term sheet to be signed by the county is non-binding and includes an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement that could ultimately span one year.

“There have been many moons that you guys have stared at,” Lott told the county supervisors. “There have been many mornings that I have cried figuring out how to get this done.” In addition, to Lott, former NFL stars Marcus Allen, Rodney Peete and Raymond Chester spoke in favor of the proposal and for keeping the Raiders in Oakland. Fans deserve to be rewarded with a new stadium to replace the aging Coliseum, said Allen, a Super Bowl MVP while playing for the Raiders.“They deserve the team to stay in the city of Oakland,” he said. “If this team does not remain here, there will be a black hole in the city of Oakland.”

Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, however, voiced concern over the proposal and whether it will ultimately be fair to county taxpayers. “I need to be honest with myself whether I’m gifting public funds,” said Carson. On numerous occasions, he suggested the county explore selling its portion of the Coliseum complex to the city.

In a bizarre exchange between Carson and Raiders superfan Ray Perez, better known as Dr. Death, the normally reserve county supervisor lashed out at the public speaker. Upset that Perez had twice labeled Carson as a no vote for the proposal, Carson asked, “Why did you pick me out?” Perez responded, saying he had heard rumors about his Carson's opposition. Carson strongly disputed he had told anyone how he was leaning to vote on the matter. But, later Carson rendered the lone no vote on the term sheet, leading many on social media to mock the supervisor for voting the way Perez had earlier suggested.

Meanwhile, much praise was reserved for Lott, a former safety for the 49ers and Raiders, for his trustworthiness and business acumen. “Do a vote that will make your mother proud,” said Alameda County Board President Scott Haggerty, who became emotional while talking about his mother. “She wasn’t much of football player at all. She couldn’t throw,” Haggerty deadpanned. He recounted the past fits and starts and stumbles associated with other recent stadium proposals in Oakland. “I met some characters that wanted to build a stadium in Oakland,” said Haggerty, with a derisive tone. “What it comes down to is trust, and my mother would trust Ronnie Lott.” He added, “I hope he’s someone Mark Davis wants to do business with.”

Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan voted to abstain Tuesday afternoon, but she voiced optimism about the current proposal. Chan, though, was the one supervisor who continually questioned whether the Raiders have a desire to work the city and county. “My concern is how sincere the Raiders are to staying here,” said Chan. “We don’t want to have a big wedding and have the groom not show up.”

On this front, there could be some worry. One report published while the county supervisors were in session Tuesday morning quoted an NFL official saying the deal offered by the Lott group is a “carbon copy” of other proposal coming from Oakland.

Eric Grubman, the NFL’s point man in stadium negotiations in Oakland, faulted the deal for including a third-party in negotiations and for not including the Raiders’ hierarchy in discussion. The public comment likely tamps down enthusiasm in Oakland for a new stadium and whether the NFL leaders are truly bullish on keeping the team in the East Bay. Especially since Raiders owner Mark Davis has refused to negotiate with Oakland and Alameda County officials while turning his attention to a possible stadium in Las Vegas.

NFL owners are scheduled to discuss the Raiders' stadium issues this Wednesday. Raiders ownership could file for relocation during an owners’ meeting in January. However, several more issues must be resolved by then, including the possible $500 million relocation fee the Raiders would have to pay the NFL and whether a move to Las Vegas can win approval by two-thirds of the 32 NFL owners.

Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle said he realizes this is the city and county’s so-called final drive of the game. Having now just received the ball on their own 25-yard line, said Valle, “We have 75 yards to-go and we’ve got a great team."

“Thank God we’re the Raiders and not the 49ers,” joked Haggerty, comparing the likely playoff-bound Raiders to the downtrodden one-win 49ers.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Alameda council files FPPC complaint over mystery campaign mailers

Alameda Councilmember Tony Daysog during
the Dec. 6 council meeting.
ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL |
Just weeks before Election Day, some Alameda voters received highly negative mailers against Councilmember Tony Daysog. However, the mailers equating Daysog to Donald Trump and accusing him of participating in a pay-to-play scheme for campaign contribution. Notably, each failed to identify who was behind their creation and dissemination. The mystery behind the makers of the mailers remains unknown.

However, at least two Alameda residents have filed written complaints with the California Fair Political Practices Commission and last week the Alameda City Council voted to add its own complaint.

No evidence alleging who or what group created the pair of mailers is believed to be included in the city’s complaint. One citizen complaint included unsubstantiated claims fingering the Alameda Firefighters political action committee.

Neither mailer against Daysog, above and
below, included "paid for" I.D.'s.
State election law requires political mailers to include a “paid for” description, typically placed at the bottom of each piece. Moreover, despite the lack of identification on the Daysog mailers, they could still be legal if less than 200 pieces were sent to Alameda voters. But how widespread the mailings were is unknown, but each featured an actual postage stamp, rather than a marker for bulk mail.

Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer brought the issue to the City Council last Tuesday night in a belief the city’s complaint would add heft to the FPPC’s investigation, which is already underway, according to City Attorney Janet Kern.

Daysog, who received the brunt of the explosive mailers some believe seriously derailed his re-election last month, said the harsh tenor of the recent campaign season was unprecedented in Alameda. He supported filing the FPPC complaint, along with Councilmember Frank Matarrese and Spencer. Councilmember Jim Oddie abstained, and Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft was absent.

“I do think that it’s important for the city council to make a statement that says, ‘You know, that kind of politics might be fine for the bigger cities like the L.A.s. of the world and the San Franciscos of the world, but here in the city of Alameda, a mid-size city of 75,000, we have certain values when it comes to civic engagement and that we’re going to affirmatively support those values,'” said Daysog.

Matarrese, himself, is no stranger to a barrage of hit pieces. During his 2010 run for mayor, Matarrese’s campaign was bedeviled by a negative campaign blitz by a group seeking to develop Alameda Point. “Being on the receiving end of it, I know it’s no fun,” he said. Matarrese agrees that Alameda’s political campaigns are becoming more coarse every election cycle, but so is the level of discourse among supporters of each campaign. “We have to start chipping away at what has become an ugly environment,” said Matarrese

Several public speakers slammed the mysterious mailers for their corrosive impact on the city’s political discourse. “Not only is it an insult to Tony,” said Alameda resident Susan Sperry, “but an insult to all of us.”

In a statement reminiscent of the last presidential campaign--also one of the most negative in recent
memory--one Alameda resident Tuesday night alleged another City Council candidate was behind the offending mailers and declared, “I wish she does hard time,” said Noel Folsom.

“I understand there a lot of anger over the election,” said Oddie. He suggested, instead, issuing a resolution condemning the kind of negative campaigning exhibited in the mailers against Daysog. Oddie later called Spencer’s referral a “waste of time.”

“It’s really not going to matter what we do,” said Oddie, noting an FPPC investigation is already underway. Spencer countered, the issue is not negative campaigning, but the likely appearance of election violations.

HERE & THERE

  • Mayor Spencer’s nomination of Sherice Youngblood to the city’s Social Services Human Relations Board was met with resistance from opponents who say the last-minute appointment to replace Alameda school board member-elect Jennifer Williams is political cronyism. With Spencer ally Councilmember Daysog’s last council meeting slated for Dec. 20, most observers believe Youngblood’s appointment would not be met favorable with expected new council majority of Ashcraft, Oddie and newcomer Malia Vella. “I’m curious, why push to fill Jen Williams’s seat knowing that Malia Vella got elected, we didn’t do anything for the [Historical Advisory Board]?” Before winning election to the Alameda City Council last month, Vella was a HAB member. According to the City Charter, it’s the mayor’s prerogative when to schedule agenda items and make appointments. City Clerk Lara Weisinger noted there was more urgency to quickly fill the social services board seat. In addition, there was some confusion over whether the seat would actually be vacated by Williams, said Weisinger. The appointment was approved Tuesday night and will return for discussion on Dec. 20.
  • The Oakland warehouse fire disaster killing 36 people last week has got some Alamedans worried about its own stock of vacant warehouses, primarily at the former Alameda Naval Air Station. “Tragedies like this can happen in any community,” said Alameda City Manager Jill Keimach. But she assured the City Council and public last week that strong code enforcement exists at these properties. In addition, while many warehouses in Oakland are privately-owned, most of the buildings at the Point are city-owned, “so we have control over the uses of those buildings,” she said.
  • A $7.3 million state grant for the Central Avenue Complete Streets program was likely to be approved last Wednesday by the California Transportation Commission, said Keimach.

Oakland, Alameda County officials to vote Tuesday on Raiders stadium term sheet

OAKLAND | STADIUM |
In what is likely the last chance to keep the Raiders in Oakland, both the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and the Oakland City Council will vote Tuesday on a proposed term sheet to build a $1.3 billion stadium at the Coliseum.

Specifics of the term sheet offered by the investment group led by NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott and Fortress Invesement Group were released Friday morning.

Tuesday's likely approval of the term sheet by both governmental parties allows them to begin negotiating the financials of potentially building a new stadium at the existing Coliseum complex.

READ: Entire Coliseum term sheet

As part of the proposed term sheet, the city and county will pledge up to $200 million toward infrastructure costs related to building the new stadium. Lott, the NFL, and the Oakland Raiders (if they agree to joining the group at a later date) will foot the cost of constructing the actual stadium, in addition, to any cost overruns.

Neither Lott's group, the NFL, the Raiders, nor the project will be not be responsible for paying off the Coliseum's existing debt.

The discussion next Tuesday, starting at 9:30 a.m. at the Board of Supervisors chambers in Oakland; 5:30 p.m. at Oakland City Hall, also includes entering a one-year Exclusive Negotiating Agreement between the city, county, and the Lott investment group.

Raiders owner Mark Davis, however, is publicly seeking relocation to Las Vegas after legislators in Nevada approved a $750 million public subsidy to build a new stadium on the Vegas Strip.

Time is of the essence as NFL owners are scheduled to meet days after the city and county vote on the Lott term sheet. NFL owners will also meet in January where Davis is expected to file for relocation to Las Vegas.

But the existence of a credible stadium plan in Oakland may scuttle any push for moving the team to Las Vegas. In addition, to institutional skepticism toward any sports franchise basing its operations in the gambling mecca of the United States, NFL bylaws prohibit teams from relocation when a viable stadium plan exists in its current city.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

As Hayward’s $25 million education grant winds down, future funding is uncertain

Hayward Councilmember Al Mendall suggested
the future administrative costs for Hayward 
Promise Neighborhood was deliberately omitted.
HAYWARD CITY COUNCIL |
The Hayward Promise Neighborhood program, born out of a 5-year, $25 million federal grant to improve education outcomes in Hayward’s impoverished Jackson Triangle neighborhood, is due to run out this month.

But the future of its programs and legacy appear uncertain after several Hayward councilmembers questioned whether the Hayward Promise Neighborhood (HPN) has provided sufficient data concerning its positive outcomes for students and their families in one of the city most poverty-stricken areas.

Hayward elected officials, added, any continuation of even a few of HPN’s programs appears unlikely due to continuing city budget uncertainty, while some questioned whether the city’s treasury should be tapped to fund a “gap year” for administrative costs while an additional round of grant funding is sought sometime during the last half of 2017.

The areas within Jackson Avenue, Whitman Road and Harder Road make up the Jackson Triangle. More than a dozen local agencies are involved in HPN, but its primary recipient is Cal State East Bay.

One requirement for applying for additional grant funding is the existence of an on-going administrative infrastructure, said Hayward City Manager Kelly McAdoo. “It’s a little bit of a cart and horse issue. If we stop funding those services we won’t be competitive for the grant, but then there’s a risk that we fund those services and we don’t get the grant,” she said.

The potential cost of funding a gap year for HPN may run between $90,000 and $150,000, said McAdoo. The costs appeared to worry some officials. Councilmember Al Mendall asserted the omission of costs to the city was deliberate.

Councilmember Marvin Peixoto said Monday’s work session presentation implied future funding for at least portions of HPN’s programs is forthcoming. “I’m going to need some more specifics before I totally buy-in to it,” he said. “I don’t get that clear an impression that that’s going to happen.”

No other Hayward official was more skeptical about the future of HPN more than Councilmember Sara Lamnin, who criticized the program's lack of data collection, although, she pledged an open mind when it comes to any forthcoming proposal. “I want to see the outcomes piece. I see a lot of data about participation. I see a lot of data about awareness and it’s lovely and it’s important," said Lamnin, "but how many grades challenged?”

Incremental growth is apparent, added, Lamnin, but still deficient. “But in the Jackson Triangle, did we move the needle in terms of the things that matter in the success of our students?” asked Lamnin.

Despite the council's reticence toward opening the city's purse strings for some the programs facilitated by HPN, several lauded its attempts for impacting students in the South Hayward neighborhood. Mayor Barbara Halliday said five years isn't enough time to completely turnaround the Jackson Triangle, but progress is being made.

“I am certain that we have changed the lives of some of the children in this area and if we continue to work together, we can make that number grow and we can be a better community,” said Halliday. However, she added, appropriating money from the general fund next year will be "very difficult."

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Swalwell introduces bill for commission on Russian electoral interference

Rep. Eric Swalwell wants to investigate Russia's
involvement in alleged cyber espionage.
CONGRESS | 15TH DISTRICT |
Rep. Eric Swalwell wants to get to the bottom of Russia's alleged interference during this year's U.S. presidential election.

The East Bay congressmember introduced a bill Wednesday along with a top-ranking House Democrats that would form a 12-person, bipartisan commission to investigate Russia's digital espionage in matters including the hacking of Democratic National Committee servers and the emails of Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta.

"This past election, the principles of our democracy were attacked," said Swalwell. "We owe it to our constituents to defend the integrity of our representative democracy, starting with finding out what exactly happened and how we prevent it from ever happening again.

“While our intelligence agencies have concluded with high confidence that Russia meddled in America’s elections, to what degree and whether other state or non-state actors were involved remains unresolved. Americans of all political parties are rightfully worried and deserve answers. To protect our democracy, we are calling for a fact-based, independent, bipartisan-appointed commission on foreign interference in the 2016 election.”

The commission would have subpoena power and ultimately issue of final report on how the U.S. can be protected from similar interference in the future. The proposed commission, however, is unlikely to find much support in the Republican-led House.

The hacking and dissemination of emails belonging to DNC staffers, along with Podesta's missives had a profound impact on the presidential campaign, often portraying Democratic leaders intent on paving the way for Clinton's nomination for president.

The proposed legislation, also co-authored by Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, would also task the commission with investigating the similar hacking of Colin Powell's emails and the security of voting systems in Arizona, Illinois and Florida. Investigating the creation and promotion of so-called "fake news" sites peddling disinformation about Clinton and other Democratic officials would also be under the purview of the commission.

Alameda Councilmember Oddie wants island to be a sanctuary city

Alameda Councilmember Jim Oddie
ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL |
Alameda may be the next Bay Area city to resist President-elect Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric by becoming a sanctuary city.

Alameda Councilmember Jim Oddie will seek to kickstart a push on the island for sanctuary city status at the year's final council meeting on Dec. 20.

The referral will not only direct city staff to begin assessing the potential costs and risks for becoming a sanctuary city but also seeks to instructs Alameda Police to refuse any request by the Trump administration to use its resources for mass arrests or internment.

In addition, Oddies wants the city to declare that no city department will participate in any registering of individuals based on their religious beliefs.

“This is pretty much about values,” said Oddie. “Are we going to stand up to Trump or not? By doing this we could be a fortress of defense against Trump.”

Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco leaders recently reaffirmed their status as a sanctuary city in moves readily viewed as attempts to forcefully oppose the incoming Trump administration.

In Alameda County, Sheriff Gregory Ahern has said in the past his department will comply with requests by agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seeking to detain or even deport undocumented immigrants.

Oddie said his proposal will also protect many law-abiding undocumented immigrants who are at risk of being detained for minor infractions. “If someone gets pulled over for a broken tail light they won’t be reported to ICE," said Oddie. "They’re raising a family and paying their taxes. Are we going to stand and protect hardworking people or not?”

One of the concerns over sanctuary cities is the risk of a punitive response from the Trump administration, for instance, pulling some federal dollars from Bay Area cities or even the entire state.

A portion of Oddie’s referral asks the city staff to discern what those risks will be, but he said Alameda currently receives limited federal funds, primarily in public safety and transportation. “We need to find out realistically what they could take away,” said Oddie. “If all the cities along the state are sanctuary cities, are they going to withhold federal money? I don’t think so. In my opinion, if they do, there will be riots in the streets.”

Oddie's proposal may also be the first test of the next City Council's potential shift to the left. The referral is scheduled to be heard following Councilmember-elect Malia Vella's swearing-in on Dec. 20. She replaces the more moderate Councilmember Tony Daysog on the five-person council.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Possible changes coming to San Leandro’s surveillance policies

SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | San Leandro may tear up its contract with its red-light camera vendor. Mayor Pauline Cutter urged Monday night for the City Council to examine the possibility of ending its contract for red-light camera services, in addition to beginning a dialogue over redistributing public safety surveillance cameras to recurring hot spots for crime.

Cutter also requested a future agenda item to revisit the city’s data storage policy regarding Automated License Plate Readers. However, she acknowledged the discussion on each item will not likely begin in earnest until early next year.

Local government contracts with red-light camera vendors were en vogue in recent years. But recently some cities, including Hayward, have chosen to back out of those agreements, citing concerns over high incidents of false infractions, particularly on vehicles making permitted right turns on red lights, and generally ineffectiveness in regulation traffic.

In addition, there is some evidence the cameras can cause collisions. Specifically when drivers avoid setting off cameras by slamming their brakes on yellow lights, instead of safely traveling through the intersection.

City Manager Chris Zapata said data on red-light cameras was recently compiled in response to a request by Councilmember Ursula Reed. The cost of breaking the contract with the red-light camera vendor is unclear.

Resurrecting a discussion on San Leandro’s license plate readers policy, however, appears rooted in anticipated opposition toward the incoming Trump administration and unease over how well it might protect citizens from intrusive surveillance.

Mike Katz-Lacabe, a former San Leandro school board members and frequent critic of the surveillance state, urged the City Council Monday night to examine whether it should lowering the amount of time it retains license plate reader data. San Leandro current stores information for up to 12 months. Katz-Lacabe suggested lowering the policy to 6 months.

Cutter and Thomas appeared willing to listen. “Do we really need six months versus the one year we have right now?” asked Thomas, who recommended bringing the proposal to the City Council’s Rules Committee for discussion.

HERE & THERE

  • While Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco officials have reaffirmed their sanctuary city status in recent weeks, there are stirrings in other East Bay cities for joining them, including San Leandro. Two weeks ago, several public speakers urged the council to protect undocumented immigrants for prosecution and possibly deportation by becoming a sanctuary city. On Tuesday, another speaker strongly encouraged the same move. In every instance, the impetus was clearly a response to Trump’s, yet to be detailed intention to increase deportations on undocumented immigrants.
  • Councilmember Thomas noted Monday night that incidents of illegal dumping appear to be increasing in San Leandro. Councilmember Corina Lopez said illegal dumping is also on the rise in her district, particularly on the San Leandro-Oakland border. In fact, San Leandro public works was summoned recently to clean up debris and mattresses on the border that was actually under Oakland’s jurisdiction.
  • Monday’s council meeting was the last for termed out members Jim Prola and Ursula Reed. Former San Leandro police sergeant Pete Ballew will be sworn-in to replace Prola in District 6 on Dec. 19 and Ed Hernandez will take the oath of office in District 2. Councilmember Benny Lee will also be sworn-in for a second term.