Thursday, April 28, 2016

ALCO Supe Nate Miley raised a whopping $163,000, but already spent most it

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley
Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley raised more than $163,000 over the past four months, but has already spent a large portion with six weeks before the June 7 primary.

Miley who started the year with less cash than debt, quickly rebounded over the first four and a half months of 2016.

However, the campaign burned through money at a rapid clip, spending $133,251 during the same period.

The campaign’s cash reserves stand at $35,184 through April 23, according to his campaign finance report, with debts totaling $9,872.

Miley’s campaign coffers were stuffed largely through local labor unions and several organizations that have done business with the county in the past, including Paramedics, Plus and Alecto Healthcare, which operates St. Rose Hospital in Hayward.

Several pro-landlord groups also poured large amounts of donations to Miley’s campaign, including $7,500 from the political arm of the powerful California Apartment Association.

In addition, to paying consultants and staff, one of the largest expenditures was nearly $30,000 to the Claremont Club for a fundraiser.

Although, Miley greatly outpaced the fundraising performance of his opponent, Bryan Parker, who raised $95,000 since the start of the year, the challenger still maintains a large lead in cash on hand. According to campaign finance reports, Parker holds almost $100,000 in available cash.

Parker’s bid to unseat Miley has nearly $100,000 in reserves for stretch run

Bryan Parker, left, with Alameda County Supe
Nate Miley at a forum in Castro Valley.
A day after announcing a major endorsement from East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell, upstart Alameda County supervisorial candidate Bryan Parker reported nearly $100,000 in cash reserves for the final six weeks of the campaign.

Parker, who raised $117,000 through the end of the year, according to finance reports, gathered another $95,000 in contributions during the most current fundraising period from Jan. 1 through April 23.

A campaign finance report for Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley’s campaign has not yet been released. End-of-the-year reports showed Miley had just $4,043 in cash on hand with nearly equal amounts of debt.

However, a series of recent fundraisers is expected to fatten Miley's campaign coffers. The Alameda Labor Council, for instance, made a $10,000 contribution to Miley’s campaign earlier this month.

It is also notable to mention, Alameda County campaign finance limits at $20,000 per election cycle are much higher for Board of Supervisor races than other municipal races.

Meanwhile, a second consecutive positive fundraising report for Parker, will surely gain further attention following high profile endorsements over the past week from State Sen. Steve Glazer and Swalwell—both popular among moderate voters in the Tri Valley portion of District Four.

During the first of two pre-primary reporting periods, Parker raised $94,890 and spent $71,669. The campaign holds $6,055 in debts, and overall maintain a campaign account with $99,882 going forward to the June 7 winner-take-all primary.

LISTEN! East Bay Citizen Podcast - CAGOP Convention Special with Oakland CA13 candidate Sue Caro

In addition, to running for Congress in Oakland's
13th District, Sue Caro is also a potential John
Kasich delegate to the GOP National Convention.
EPISODE 23 | In most years, the California Republican State Convention is a sleepy affair, but certainly not this year. Republican presidential contenders Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich are coming to Burlingame this weekend to begin the final stretch toward the big June 7 California primary.

To kickoff coverage of the GOP state convention, former Alameda County Republican Party chair and 13th Congressional District candidate Sue Caro joins the program this week to talk about the local search by presidential hopefuls for locating loyal delegates to the national convention in Cleveland this summer.

Caro also lays out her vision for the congressional district long dominated by Rep. Barbara Lee, one of the most progressive members of Congress. In the interview, Caro describes Lee as ineffective for the district and merely a "symbol of a certain kind of thought process."

Click below to subscribe and listen on iTunes, Stitcher or listen at EBCitizen.com. Follow on Twitter @EBCShow.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

No she didn't! Desley Brooks calls out Libby Schaaf's white privilege

Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks
At this moment in time, Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks does not have the moral authority to be calling people out, but that didn't stop her Tuesday from suggesting Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is dismissive of minorities in her city.

"I would love to see the day Libby Schaaf puts her white privilege aside," Brooks said Tuesday afternoon during an Oakland City Council's Community and Economic Development Committee.

Brooks also alleged Schaaf runs her administration like a "fiefdom." Schaaf was in attendance for the meeting, moved to the larger City Council chambers, and at one point Brooks turned toward the mayor and directly addressed her criticisms.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf
Brooks was dismayed over a revelation learned during the hearing that a grant writer hired by Schaaf's office had failed to submit paperwork that could result in as much as $2 million in grants reserved for job training programs for the city's youth. Beforehand, Brooks and others in attendance alleged Schaaf's office was cutting job training programs accessed in great numbers by minority groups.

Brooks' comments come amid allegations she assaulted famed civil rights icon Elaine Brown last October at a downtown restaurant. Brown, 72, a former president of the Black Panthers Party, filed a $7 million lawsuit against the city for Brooks' action, which has resulted in injuries to Brown. Last week, at a 50th anniversary celebration of the Black Panther's founding, Brown was seen with a sling cradling her arm.

However, Brooks' "white privilege" comment did not out of the blue. Earlier in the meeting, Schaaf made reference to the term. "I am very conscious of my privilege because of my race," Schaaf told the committee. "I do not apologize for putting people of color in front of me"

CA17: Ro Khanna's new ad portray him as a cool cat fighting the fat cats in DC

Ro Khanna after announcing his second campaign
against Rep. Mike Honda in April 2015.
With a catchy baseline and quick edits, Ro Khanna's first campaign commercial of this election season may finally capture the cool Khanna that until now his past campaigns have failed to grasp.

"Like this place? Me neither. Corrupt. Owned by these guys," the throaty narrative intones over the image of the U.S. capitol and someone, presumably, a Washington insider smoking a cigar.

Titled, "Rest of Us, the 30-second spot taps into voter dissatisfaction with Washington and highlights Khanna's pledge against accepting political contributions from special interests and political action committees.

The ad, which will be run along several social media platforms, is clearly designed for smaller screens. With large fonts to convey Khanna's message along with closeups, the ad should play well on smartphones that many rely upon to access video and other news content.

The video also appears to be a different tact being made by the Khanna campaign. Some of the video clips of Khanna have been seen before in commercials from two years ago. However, the editing style and other accoutrements such as the short, clipped narration repackages the message into something more effective and easily digestible for voters accustomed to getting information from Facebook and Twitter.

In turn, it actually makes Khanna seem cool and hip, a personality trait many do not attach to Khanna, but which is actually genuine. If the cool Khanna can catch on, it has a chance of overshadowing Rep. Mike Honda's own strength as the fun-loving grandpa, which is also apt and not highlighted enough, either

Swalwell on Parker: 'He will bring new energy and ideas' to Board of Supervisors

Rep. Eric Swalwell posing with Parker volunteers
at a Pleasanton farmers' market earlier this month.
East Bay Congressman Eric Swalwell is again bucking the local party machine. He has endorsed former Oakland mayoral candidate Bryan Parker over incumbent Nate Miley in the June Alameda County Board of Supervisors race.

The endorsement could be a game-changer because of Parker’s significant fundraising prowess and because his campaign has been focusing on engaging voters in the District 4 areas of Pleasanton and Castro Valley—places where Swalwell, the two-term congressman, is extremely popular.

>>See also: Rep. Eric Swalwell sure is fond of Bryan Parker's campaign for supervisor

In a statement Wednesday, Swalwell praised Parker’s candidacy for its potential to bring change to the board of supes. “I’m supporting Bryan Parker because he will bring new energy and ideas to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors,” said Swalwell. “Bryan is a collaborator who knows how to bring people together to get things done. Bryan’s leadership will help create more local jobs, grow small businesses, and protect our local environment.”

Four years ago, Swalwell, like Parker this election cycle, challenged the Democratic machine and defeated 40-year incumbent Pete Stark on a pledge to bring new energy to Congress. That Swalwell is using nearly the same language to describe Parker’s bid to unseat Miley, a 15-year incumbent himself, is not surprising, because they share the same playbook. Parker’s Walnut Creek-based political consultant Lisa Tucker worked on Swalwell’s 2012 campaign. [CONTINUE AT OAKLAND MAGAZINE]

East Bay State Senate candidate front runners dance to the left, to the left!

Former Assemblymembers Nancy Skinner,
right, and Sandre Swanson in Alameda.
Regardless of how voters split hairs between the far left ideologies of the top two candidates running for California's Senate District 9 seat — former assemblymembers SandrĂ© Swanson and Nancy Skinner — the East Bay will most likely be sending to Sacramento one of the most progressive members of the next legislature. That is, unless two underdogs — moderate Democrat Katherine Welch and Republican San Pablo Mayor Rich Kinney — can win big upsets and deny a Swanson-Skinner rematch in the fall general election.

At the district's center are the cities of Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond, places where voters strongly identify with progressive politics. And the largest cities in the district—Oakland and Berkeley—have the smallest percentages of registered Republicans in the entire state with around seven percent.

Amid concerns among some Democrats that the legislature is heading in a moderate direction, in many ways District 9 represents an opportunity to yank it back to the left. "Progressives from Senate District 9 are a different slice of bread," said Mario Juarez, a member of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee. "I dare say that not even San Francisco has these types of hyper-progressives." The importance of the district, said Juarez, is that elected officials from the East Bay can wield tremendous influence in statewide politics. "A strong senator from Alameda County helps influence the machine at the state level. You want to be governor? You need Los Angeles and Alameda Counties," said Juarez. "We hold more influence in many more ways than anyone can imagine."

Swanson and Skinner have been trumpeting this exact message on the campaign trail over the past few months, rallying East Bay voters with the prospect of sending a progressive to Sacramento who can pull the legislature leftward and possibly do bold progressive things to address the housing crisis, advance environmental goals, fix the region's broken transportation system, among other big lifts. Swanson and Skinner both have extensive resumes. Each served six years in the Assembly. Their terms overlapped four of those years. They've championed many of the same issues.

"In a race like this, 90 percent of the issues that come before you, you will say 'We're the same, that we agree on those questions,' but it's the ten percent of the issues that we don't agree on, that we've shown leadership on during our tenure, that you should make your decision upon," Swanson told an audience in March in Alameda. [CONTINUE TO EAST BAY EXPRESS]

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Eric Swalwell will endorse Bryan Parker over incumbent Alameda County supe

Alameda County supervisorial candidate Bryan
Parker and Rep. Eric Swalwell.
Bryan Parker’s bid for Alameda County supervisor will get a major bump Wednesday. Popular East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell is expected to announce his endorsement of the upstart challenger over long-time Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley.

On social media, Parker said Monday a “major announcement” would come on Wednesday. Parker confirmed the announcement is about Swalwell. In fact, Parker’s volunteers, while campaigning door-to-door Monday was already touting the Tri Valley congressman’s support, he said.

Swalwell’s endorsement could upend this race since his popularity is the highest in the places Parker’s campaign believes is the key to the sprawling District 4—Pleasanton and Castro Valley. Roughly half of the district also includes East Oakland.

The announcement is also significant because of Miley’s incumbency. Entrenched Democrats in Alameda County almost always back their colleagues for re-election, except when they don’t.

Although, Miley was one of the first local politicians to endorse Swalwell’s during his insurgent 2012 run against Pete Stark, two years later, Miley endorsed Swalwell’s Democratic challenger, Ellen Corbett in the June primary.

Why did Hayward school officials reignite the Ray McDonald episode?

Hayward Superintendent Stan "Data" Dobbs
invited Gloria Allred to Tennyson.
The plight of schools in Hayward has long been a drag on a city that can't seem to take one solid step forward. When former 49ers defensive lineman and alleged rapist Ray McDonald visited Hayward's Tennyson High School last February the negative attention again set back the struggling school district. Not only were Hayward residents reminded of their underperforming schools after news of the odd invitation of McDonald to Tennyson, but the entire Bay Area and even the entire country through ESPN were introduced to its ineptitude.

Thankfully, the scorn towards Hayward schools naturally subsided just a week or so after the McDonald story had run its natural course. So why did the Hayward Unified School District decide to wind up the story once again by inviting famed Hollywood civil rights attorney Gloria Allred to speak to Tennyson students about the McDonald allegations? Allred represents the woman McDonald is alleged to have raped while she was intoxicated. McDonald's trial is scheduled to start in April.

Famed attorney Gloria Allred spoke to Tennyson
students about women's rights. Her client alleges
Ray McDonald raped her while intoxicated.
Avoiding any possibility of reigniting a story negative to your position is Public Relations 101. Yet, the HUSD led by Superintendent Stan "Data" Dobbs did just that when he sent a letter to Allred inviting her to speak at Tennyson. For what purpose is not clear. But anyone who has watched television knows anytime Allred shows up she intends to stoke a media circus and bolster her client's position using the public realm.

What occurred last Friday after Allred addressed students about women's rights was easy to predict. She then stood before local TV cameras and blasted the defendant's alleged actions and the school district for allowing McDonald to speak at Tennyson all the while being accused of felony sexual assault.

While Allred's case may be just, it has absolutely nothing to do with Hayward or Tennyson students, only her own objectives. And so again, while Hayward school officials continually paint a new day for the city's youth, they again allowed poor and minority children to be used, this time as props to Allred's performance. However, this time nobody in Hayward, not even the poverty pimps, seem to benefit from this episode.

Former 49er Ray McDonald spoke to 250 Tennyson
students on Feb. 25 while awaiting a trial for 
felony sexual assault 
What is unclear though is who, among school officials, knew about McDonald coming to Tennyson last February and whether anyone understood what it meant? Hayward Promise Neighborhood, a $25 million federally-backed education program administered with help from Cal State East Bay, made it clear initially that Hayward Superintendent Dobbs was well aware of the McDonald visit beforehand. But, in a letter to Tennyson parents later, Dobbs laid the blame on Tennyson High's principal and Hayward Promise. The latter never returned emails asking for a response to Dobbs' claim and Tennyson's principal, who's job was in jeopardy as late as last year, similarly, avoided inquiries.

Recall, Dobbs is the superintendent who attacked two school board members--effectively his bosses--last September during a closed session meeting. He later blamed his demeanor that day literally on a pain in the ass (colonoscopy procedure) and was never publicly admonished for his actions. How can you blame the principal and Hayward Promise for keeping silent when every person of power in Hayward lavishes praise on Dobbs as the savior of the city? There's certainly not much upside to being a martyr in Hayward.

Progressive California Nurses Association offers dual Honda-Khanna endorsement

Ro Khanna speaking at a Democratic club
earlier this year in San Jose.
Ro Khanna may have found an antidote for voters who don’t believe he has the progressive chops of 17th Congressional District incumbent Rep. Mike Honda, at least, partly.

The California Nurses Association (CNA), arguably, the most progressive and certainly aggressive labor union in the state announced Tuesday, they will split their endorsement between Honda and Khanna. CNA fully endorsed Honda during the 2014 election between the same candidates.

“Nurses in the Bay Area endorse Ro Khanna in the primary for the 17th congressional district because he supports Medicare for all and mandatory limits on the number of patients assigned to each registered nurse so that everyone gets optimal health care,” said Malinda Markowiz, RN, co-president of the CNA/National Nurses Union. “Ro’s experience in workforce development, advocating for our communities, and in green technology prepares him well to be our advocate in the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.”

Members of the California Nurses Association
protesting in San Leandro in 2012.
Khanna’s campaign strongly highlighted the union's shift in support as yet another high profile defection or neutral stance by local officials toward Honda in favor of Khanna's candidacy.

Honda’s campaign maintains the congressman has done more to help nurses during his tenure.

"Congressman Honda has always stood with nurses across California. Last year he was one of the first Members of Congress to actively oppose the sale Daughter's of Charity Hospitals to Prime Healthcare for what it could do to the wages and pensions of hardworking nurses,” said Vedant Patel, Honda’s political director. “That is why he is proud to have the endorsement and support of National Nurses United (NNU). He is the only candidate in this race with more than a 97 percent rating by NNU.

“Our opponent on the other hand, has never stuck his neck out for nurses or middle class families. Ro Khanna has no issues taking big checks from people who have been openly hostile towards labor unions, nurses and our healthcare system, including individuals who have closed clinics for profit, depriving hundreds of thousands of patients of care."

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Fired ESPN analyst Curt Schilling calls Mike Honda a coward

Rep. Mike Honda
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Earlier this week, Rep. Mike Honda called on ESPN to fire baseball analyst Curt Schilling for his comments on North Carolina’s new transgender law. After the network relieved Schilling of his duties Wednesday, Honda tweeted support for ESPN’s decision. Honda has a transgender grandchild. Schilling, however, responded Thursday morning, by tweeting Honda was a coward.

“As the proud grandfather of a transgender grandchild, Curt Schilling’s post on social media was personal. The Sportscaster's booth is no place for such hate filled speech fueled by intolerance and divisiveness,” said Honda in a statement Thursday.

ESPN fired former pitcher and analyst
Curt Schilling on Wednesday.
“Apparently, posting hateful and derisive memes was not enough for Mr. Schilling, who through his Twitter account went on to call me ‘a coward’ for standing with my grandchild and the transgender community.”

Last year, Honda drew nationwide praise for posting a photo of him and his transgender granddaughter on Twitter.

“I implore all Americans to reject any brand of rhetoric - whether it is on the baseball field or from a podium-- that is demeaning to individuals of any race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. I applaud ESPN on their decision. Now is not the time to give a platform to any individual who has a history of spewing such insensitive, racist, sexist, and intolerant discourse as Mr. Schilling.”

Following the statement from Honda's campaign, Schilling again took to Twitter to slam Honda. In one tweet, Schilling included a link to an article on Honda's House ethics investigation. "And that? That's you too?" tweeted Schilling.

Honda is currently facing a rematch with fellow Democrat Ro Khanna in the 17th Congressional District, along with four other candidates in the June Primary.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Legislation prodding Eden Health District to spend more on services passes Assembly committee

Assemblymember Rob Bonta's AB 2737 is one
of two bills involving the Eden Health District.
The future of the Eden Health District is again being threatened. Legislation authored by Assemblymember Rob Bonta that intends to force the public agency to spend at least 80 percent of its operating budget on health care services passed an assembly committee Wednesday, 5-0. The bill was referred to the Appropriations Committee.

“This is, in my view, a good government bill,” Bonta told the Assembly Local Government Committee Wednesday afternoon. “Their spending is upside down with a supermajority being spent on administrative overhead.” Bonta's legislation would require a 80-20 split between health care services spent on the community and administrative costs.

Bonta believes, at most, the district is spending six percent of its budget on health care services, and often times much less. “If you’re in health care you should be spending your resources on health care,” he added.

San Leandro Mayor Pauline Cutter has been
critical about the district's administrative costs.
Bonta acknowledged the introduction of his bill earlier this year followed several discussions with the health care district over its spending and obligations to San Leandro Hospital. “Those conversations have not been fruitful,” Bonta told committee members. In the end, he said of the district's value to the public, “It doesn’t seem that the community is getting the right end of that bargain.”

Public officials in Alameda County and San Leandro have voiced strong opposition over the past year to the Eden Health District’s insistence it is no longer liable for helping subsidize operations at San Leandro Hospital, which it once owned, but eventually lost to Sutter Health following a protracted and costly legal battle. Sutter eventually settled and transferred ownership of the facility to the quasi-county-run Alameda Health System.

With the loss of the community hospital, the Eden Heatlh District,, formerly named the Eden Township Healthcare District, no longer operates a hospital in the district that covers San Leandro, unincorporated Alameda County and Hayward. Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan and San Leandro Mayor Pauline Cutter have sharply criticized the health care district for not spending enough of its budget on health services and instead, they argue, on employee salaries and overhead.

Eden Health District officials say the long legal fight with Sutter Health and its own struggle to survive as a government entity has precluded them in the short term from offering health care-related grants to local community groups.

San Leandro Mayor Pauline Cutter also testified before the committee Wednesday. She implored the Eden Health District to continue paying a portion of the costs for running San Leandro Hospital, but unfortunately legislation is needed to force them to comply.

Roxanne Lewis, an elected member of the Eden Health District Board of Directors testified the district has already paid $50 million since the beginning of its lawsuit with Sutter Health to successfully keep San Leandro Hospital open. The bill, she said, also usurps local control when dealing with special districts. “What this bill is trying to do is destroy district resident's rights,” said Lewis. “I feel like this is a money grab by local people to shore up some bad decisions in the past.”

“Sounds like you have a problem with your health care district,” Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) told Bonta. Eggman chairs the Assembly Local Government Committee. Another bill, authored by Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk on the subject of the Eden Health District’s future is currently in the same committee.

However, Quirk’s Assembly Bill 2471 deals with the dissolution of the district through legislative means. Eggman said the two bills cannot be mended, but strongly urged Bonta to find common ground.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

First-time Hayward council candidate Matt McGrath is attracting attention

Hayward council candidate Matt McGrath retired
as a Hayward department head in 2014.
HAYWARD CITY COUNCIL | Hayward has a dearth of prospective candidates at all segments of its city government, but one may have been hiding all these years in its maintenance services department.

Matt McGrath is turning heads over the past month in the 10-person race for 4 seats on the Hayward City Council. In a city where labor was burned by the City Council two years ago, hot rhetoric from SEIU Local 1021 toward incumbents has rung hallow.

But, some labor officials tell the East Bay Citizen they have found McGrath to be a worthy candidate. Not to mention, McGrath’s stump speech always includes a line pledging to repair the animosity fostered by the previous council and city employees following a tumultuous wage imposition that was later found to be illegal last December by a state labor relations board.

Although, he’s a first-time candidate, McGrath was raised in Hayward and retired two years ago after serving as director of Hayward Maintenance Services.

“He’s great,” said one Alameda County Democratic Committee member last week. “He’s knowledgeable and he has insight into how the city works.”

In fact, during several recent forums and endorsement meetings in advance of the June primary, McGrath has equally praised Hayward’s potential while also acknowledging its challenges. “I wouldn’t change anything about, but I would improve everything,” McGrath said about the city Mar. 30 during a candidate forum.

Absent a strong ground game, winning one of four at-large seats on the council is going to be difficult, but not impossible. McGrath is possibly the first candidate in the running if one of the top four candidates falter. Councilmember Al Mendall is viewed as the most likely for re-election and the campaign of appointed incumbent Councilmember Elisa Marquez is well-financed.

Further down the ballot Councilmember Francisco Zermeno and his former council colleague Mark Salinas are viewed a rung below. Zermeno, though, has perennially squeaked by in all his council campaigns and Salinas is widely disliked by Democrats and labor (unions are also leery of Zermeno, too).

If either Zermeno or Salinas fall short in June, McGrath and former Hayward mayoral candidate Brian Schott are certainly the next in line for fourth place.

Judging Alameda County Superior Court candidates on their rhetoric

Judicial candidate Barbara Thomas
When San Mateo Deputy Mayor David Lim played a recording last week of a sobbing renter, landlords at the council meeting mocked her dire predicament. Lim, who is also an Alameda County deputy attorney running this June for a seat on the Alameda County Superior Court, was heckled by some landlords for playing the voice mail perceived as political grandstanding.

"It makes me wonder if the renters are right when they say some of these landlords have no heart," said Lim, according to the Mercury News.

The scene is a stark contrast to the public stance taken by one of Lim’s opponents for the Superior Court seat being vacated by the retiring Judge Lawrence Appel.

Attorney Barbara Thomas has registered support for the other end of the Bay Area crisis. Starting last fall, Thomas, a former Alameda council member, has often spoken strongly in favor of landlords’ rights in Alameda, a city where tenants have successfully formed a unified voice in enacting stronger rent stabilization protections.

Thomas, has gone as far as threatened the Alameda City Council on several occasions with lawsuits alleging the rent-related legislation was illegal. Her criticisms have all occurred during public meetings.

The declaration has raised questions of whether Thomas’s positions may form the basis for arguing bias related to any landlord and tenant disputes she may preside over, if elected to the bench.

Unlike typical political campaigns, judicial candidates theoretically operate under a unique honor system. For instance, attacking your opponents is frowned upon and voicing specific opinions on issues is forbidden.

Thomas’s clear opposition to an highly politicized issue in the county and the courts, however, may violate the State Bar of California’s Judicial Code of Ethics pertaining to candidates.

Canon Five of the code reads, “A judge or candidate for judicial office shall not engage in political or campaign activity that is inconsistent with the independence, integrity, or impartiality of the judiciary.”

While an argument came be made for Thomas’s rhetoric crossing over into the political sphere, stating a case for election without offering some indication of your viewpoint is often like walking a tightrope between not enough information and too much.

Earlier this month, Scott Jackson told an Democratic endorsement caucus that he clearly opposed any legislation that discriminates against the LGBT community. Jackson said he “whole-heartedly disagreed” with a recent law requiring residents in North Carolina to use the public restrooms that correspond with the sex on their identification card. Lim expressed the same sentiment but without a declaration.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Honda outraises Khanna in first quarter; Khanna maintains sizable cash lead

Rep. Mike Honda, left, though still trails
Ro Khanna's $1.95 million cash on hand.
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Despite an ethics inquiry still pending, contributors to Rep. Mike Honda's campaign are helping him keep pace with his usually well-financed opponent Ro Khanna.

Honda raised $436,758 during the first quarter of the year, through Mar. 31. The number barely eclipsed Khanna’s $426,982 during the same period.

Monday's disclosure follows a familiar script to their first campaign two years ago when Khanna greatly outraised the Democratic incumbent early while Honda played catch through the first half of the election year.

The Honda campaign took the opportunity to boast about the finance reports in a statement.

"Even with the help of right wing millionaires and billionaires, our opponent wasn’t able to keep up with our outpouring support from across the district,” said Michael Beckendorf, Honda’s campaign manager.

Khanna, however, still holds a large lead in cash on hand, according to campaign finance reports. Through the end of last month, Khanna’s campaign coffers hold $1.95 million in reserves. Honda’s campaign reported $792,208 in the bank, through March. The spread is similar to 2015 year-end figures.

Finance reports also showed Khanna is maintaining his pledge not to accept contributions from political action committees. Honda reported $92,700 in contributions from PACs during the first quarter and more than $407,000 during the current election cycle.

Honda’s ability to post healthy fundraising numbers is notable since a common narrative fostered by Khanna surrogates has questioned whether institutional support for Honda was foundering under the cloud of a pending investigation against him by the Office of Congressional Ethics. The investigation is centered on the alleged blurring of the job duties between Honda's official and campaign staffs.

LISTEN! East Bay Citizen Podcast Special Edition: East Bay June Primary Outlook

EPISODE 22 | I've seen and heard much on the campaign trails across the East Bay over the past few months. Races at the state, county and city level, not to mention the nationally-watched Rep. Mike Honda-Ro Khanna rematch dominate the June Primary ballot. (By the way, if you're not registered to vote, do so now or forever hold your peace).

On this week's episode, I'll break down the candidates and issues in the big five races in the East Bay: State Senate Ninth District races; Assembly races in the 14th and 16th Districts; Hayward's 10-candidate City Council race; the aforementioned 17th Congressional District; and Alameda County's Board of Supervisor District Four winner-take-all race featuring Supervisor Nate Miley and Bryan Parker.

Tojo Thomas, Miley's opponent from four years ago, drops in to talk about his success during the last election cycle in baiting Miley into repeatedly losing his cool and setting up the long-time incumbent to make statements that could be used against him during this June Primary season.

Click below to subscribe and listen on iTunes, Stitcher or listen at EBCitizen.com. Follow on Twitter @EBCShow.

State Sen. Steve Glazer backs Bryan Parker for Alameda County supervisor

Alameda County supervisorial candidate Bryan 
Parker at an April 13 forum in Castro Valley.
State Sen. Steve Glazer is weighing-in on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors race on the side of upstart challenger Bryan Parker over long-time Supervisor Nate Miley.

Parker's campaign announced the Glazer endorsement Monday morning.

“Bryan represents the kind of new leader we need in public office,” said Glazer, whose Seventh District covers large portions of Contra Costa County and Pleasanton to the south. “Bryan will be a responsive and trustworthy Supervisor who will pursue policy decisions in the best interests of the people in his district, not special interests.”

Monday’s endorsement is a clear sign Parker believes his path toward upending Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley runs through Pleasanton, which, in addition to Castro Valley and other portions of unincorporated Alameda County, holds a slight majority of the district. The other half is primarily East Oakland.

State Sen. Steve Glazer is popular in the Tri Valley,
not so much in progressives parts of District Four.
“I am honored to have the support of Senator Glazer,” said Parker. “I admire his service to his constituents and our state. I look forward to working with him to enact policies that help people in this district, including reducing traffic and improving roads and improving the local economy.”

While the endorsement has certain value among Tri Valley moderates in Pleasanton, the association with Glazer is likely to mean the opposite among progressive primary voters elsewhere. Glazer’s stances toward the BART strikes and public transportation unions of nearly three years ago still roil progressives.

But the Glazer endorsement is one of the first signs of life in this surprisingly low-key primary campaign which has avoided any conflict or much exposure in the public’s view. In addition, time is also in short supply from here to June 7. Since only two candidates are in the race, it assures there will not be runoff in November.

Friday, April 15, 2016

An open and closed primary in the East Bay's Ninth District Senate race

State Senate candidates: Nancy Skinner, Sandre
Swanson, Rich Kinney and Katherine Welch.
STATE SENATE | 9TH DISTRICT | While hobnobbing for her June primary campaign during the California Democratic State Convention in San Jose, former Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner revealed a more soulful side to her public persona: She can sing. Skinner cut an album of folk songs in the 1980s. Asked to sing a few bars, she complied, belting out a few lines of an original song.

Of course, if you were the beneficiary of almost $1.1 million in campaign contributions to spend in the East Bay’s 9th state Senate District race, you might sing, too. Skinner’s war chest greatly outstrips those of her opponents, former Democratic Assemblyman Sandre Swanson; first-time Democratic candidate Katherine Welch of Piedmont; and San Pablo Mayor Rich Kinney (also a singer!), the only Republican.

The eventual pitch and tone of this high-profile campaign remains to be seen. The race will likely be hard-fought and grueling from here to November. When California voters approved a radical change to the way statewide officials were elected, the reform, known as the open primary, predicted the end of partisan gridlock in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. By giving moderate candidates from either side of the aisle a second shot at incumbents in November, this system has succeeded in many cases in moving the Legislature and congressional candidates a tad toward the center of the political spectrum.

Swanson and Skinner speaking at an meeting
in Alameda last February.
But while the open primary has begun to transform politics on the geographical fringes of the Greater East Bay, it hasn’t yet changed much in Oakland, Berkeley, or Richmond, where registered Republicans are in short supply. Open primary races in Oakland often amount to contested races featuring progressives offering nary a difference in their policies and beliefs.

Swanson hopes to dramatize the differences between himself and Skinner. In 2009, when both were in the state Assembly and the state was drowning in a $41 billion budget deficit, Swanson voted against a hard-fought bipartisan compromise hammered out by the Democratic leadership. He paid dearly for his insubordination, losing his committee chairmanship. At the time, Swanson said he could not vote for a budget plan that cut services for the children and poor. Part of the plan negotiated with Republicans also led to a ballot initiative in 2010 that paved the way for the open primary, which Swanson also opposed.

“It wasn’t democratic,” Swanson said. “It eliminated the Green Party and other parties; and diluted most loyal Democrats like minorities.”

The problem, as Swanson sees it, is that the open primary often pits two strong Democrats against each other in the general election. Over time, the intraparty battles could have a negative effect on the party, he said.

The strategy behind Swanson’s budget vote is to highlight what he hopes voters will see as a highly principled progressive willing to go against the grain in Sacramento. Skinner’s rebuttal to this approach has been to describe herself as an “operational progressive,” someone who stands for liberal principles but is willing to make certain compromises to further such policies.

Both candidates believe their records will win the day. And both preferred the former primary format, which allowed the top vote-getter in each party to face off in November. That, at least, is one area in which the perceived frontrunners agree with their GOP primary opponent...[READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE IN OAKLAND MAGAZINE]

Alameda County Dems issue a rude response to Bryan Parker's candidacy

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley and former
Port of Oakland Commissioner Bryan Parker.
Alameda County supervisorial candidate Bryan Parker is well-spoken with a firm grasp of the issues. When the upstart challenging long-time Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley spoke before the county’s Democratic Central Committee last week, the party big-wigs were cordial.

Parker and Miley were vying for the local party’s endorsement for this June’s winner-take-all primary at the central committee’s monthly meeting in San Leandro.

But once the candidates left the room, the often outspoken and catty group of party poobahs, unleashed their fury against Parker, who last ran for Oakland mayor two years ago.

“He should be ashamed of himself for running,” Howard Egerman, an elected member of the central committee from Oakland’s 18th Assembly District, said of Parker's insurgent run for supervisor.

Even more biting were comments from Central Committee member Kathy Neal, who like others urged the group to endorse Miley’s re-election. Neal once tabbed Parker as her alternative to the central committee.

“We don’t always like to admit to mistakes that we make, but I will,” said Neal. “That was one of the most stupid mistakes that I have made in my life and as soon I realized that, I removed him immediately. That’s all I have to say.”

Others spoke less aggressively in favor of endorsing Miley, in addition, to a central committee member from Pleasanton. The member from Pleasanton speaking on behalf of Miley is notable, since the Tri Valley city, which makes up the farthest eastern portion of the supervisorial district that also includes East Oakland, is viewed as the primary’s battleground.

Because of county redistricting a few years back Miley has little history with voters in Pleasanton, who are typically more moderate than the rest of the district and potentially more friendly to Parker’s business background.

Needless to say, in the end, the Alameda County Central Committee endorsed Miley.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

CA17: Cohen receives blowback for supporting Trump

Donald Trump has the support of CA17 candidate
Ron Cohen and feeling push back for the decision.
Republican Ron Cohen is catching heat from all sides after declaring support last month for Donald Trump, the party’s controversial presidential front runner.

The Fremont certified public accountant is among five others hoping to unseat Rep. Mike Honda this June in the 17th Congressional District. Cohen says he’s received several angry emails to his campaign web site since announcing last month that he is backing Trump's nomination.

One Republican voter said they would not volunteer for Cohen’s campaign since they believe Trump doesn’t hold requisite conservative credentials. “As a registered Republican I am disappointed that you are backing Trump for the Republican nomination,” they wrote in a email to Cohen.

He says others have sent him emails with various lines of criticism over his decision to back Trump. Cohen is also seeking to become one of Trump’s delegates to the Republican National Convention this summer, in the event the New York billionaire wins the 17th Congressional District in the June primary.

Cohen has also been challenged on Twitter, especially by a former Ro Khanna staffer who slammed Cohen's endorsement, primarily over Trump’s strong stance toward immigrants and Muslims.
In fact, the congressional district boasts some of the largest Asian American and Afghan communities in the nation. In addition, Fremont’s population features a minority-majority bolstered by a large Asian and South Asian American population.

“Seriously why are you running? Are you a 50 Shades of Grey style masochist or something?” said one tweet to Cohen last week. Another read, “Reason number 666 why @RCohen4Congress is wrong for #CA17. He PROUDLY supports @realDonaldTrump for President.”

Cohen, though, shrugs off the attacks and says his support for Trump differentiates him from the other Republican in the primary, Santa Clara businessman Peter Kuo, who received the backing of the Santa Clara County Republican Party on Wednesday.

In an email, he said of the emails and recent tweet storm: “I do disagree I am: 1) Blind to Trump’s real meaning; 2) That there is any racism involved; and 3) That’s I’d be an abhorrent congressman.”

Dem leaders upset over Khanna mailer that suggests he's the party's choice

South Bay Democrats are upset over the inclusion
of a graphic implying Ro Khanna has the support
of the Democratic Party.
Voters in the fiercely-competitive 17th Congressional District received an eight-page mailer from Ro Khanna last weekend meant to reintroduce his campaign to voters in the South Bay. However, the mailer also includes a sticker with an old logo of the Democratic National Committee and tagline that party leaders say will mislead voters into incorrectly thinking the upstart challenger facing Rep. Mike Honda this June has the endorsement of the state party.

The graphic located on the back of the mailer includes photos of Khanna’s Democratic endorsers including California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and state Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, along with a passage from a newspaper editorial supporting his candidacy. Included, though, at the bottom is a badge featuring a discontinued red, white, and blue kicking donkey logo last used by the Democratic National Committee in 2010. The graphic also includes the tagline, “Endorsed by Democrats.”

The back page of the Khanna mailer received 
by voters this week displays the names and 
faces of prominent Dems who back his campaign.
Some South Bay Democrats took umbrage with the Khanna’s mailer for stretching the truth. Sunnyvale Councilmember Jim Griffith received the mailer earlier this week and said he was disappointed with the connotation of Khanna as the party’s choice. “My initial reaction was this is pretty dishonest,” said Griffith, who was a delegate to the state convention last March. “It’s true that he has the support of some Democrats, but his intention is to deceive,” said Griffith. He believes the inclusion of the party logo on the mailer was deliberate. “It’s cheap and unbecoming of someone who wants to be a congressman," he said.

Santa Clara County Democratic Party Chair Steve Preminger had no response on the content of Khanna’s mailer, but added, “I want to make sure there’s no confusion that the party, through its extensive endorsement process, strongly supports Mike Honda’s re-election to Congress.”

The impetus behind the large mailer, said Khanna, is to reintroduce him to the district in time for the June primary. Honda defeated Khanna by less than four points in November 2014.The mailer includes biographical information about the candidate along with photos of his family.

Khanna’s campaign is standing by the mailer. "It's entirely accurate. And of all people, Mike Honda should know that Ro Khanna has attracted the endorsement of dozens of prominent, progressive Democrats. After all, several of these Democrats dropped their endorsement of Honda to support Ro," said Khanna spokesperson Hari Sevugan.

Honda’s campaign, however, said the mailer is part of a trend, while referencing a somewhat similar incident during Khanna’s initial run for Congress as a 26-year-old anti-war candidate challenging long-time Democratic Rep. Tom Lantos.

"Ro Khanna is once again trying to mislead voters like he did in 2004 when he falsely claimed to have President Clinton’s endorsement, said Honda campaign spokesperson Vedant Patel. "It is obvious that he is willing to do and say whatever it takes to be a Member of Congress. Make no mistake, the California Democratic Party doesn't share Ro's corporate vision of trampling on the middle class and neither do the voters of the 17th district.”

Honda’s supporters in local government might be upset with the Khanna mailer for good reason since winning the endorsement proved a bit more difficult than usual for the incumbent congressman. Before Honda won the state party’s endorsement at its state convention last March, he failed by two votes to snag the party’s backing during an earlier pre-endorsement meeting in Oakland.

This led to a floor discussion at the convention, which Honda easily won, but not before the presence of an anti-Khanna mailer surreptitiously placed beforehand on delegate’s seats. The mailer depicted Khanna as a puppet of the Republican Party. The Honda campaign denied involvement and some South Bay insiders now believe the mailer was the work of an unnamed labor group.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Hayward council candidate John Taylor says supe who attacked school board members is 'best in the country'

Hayward council candidate John Taylor is
also a member of the city's school board.
HAYWARD CITY COUNCIL | Hayward City Council candidate John Taylor is taking credit for luring the school district’s superintendent who was later alleged to have attacked two members of the school board last fall.

While seeking the endorsement of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee last week, Taylor, one of 10 candidates seeking four open seats on the City Council this June, said he personally recruited Hayward Unified School District Superintendent Stan “Data” Dobbs for the job three years ago.

Taylor, a current member of the school board, also described Dobbs as the “best superintendent in the country.”

Taylor, second from the right, at the Alameda County
Central Committee meeting Apr. 6 in San Leandro.
Hayward school board members William McGee and Luis Reynoso both filed police reports following the alleged closed session incident. No charges were filed, but the reports document Dobbs behaving in an aggressive manner toward both officials. The ordeal also precipitated other members of the five-person board to restrain Dobbs, according to the police reports.

During the endorsement meeting with county Democrats Taylor was also critical of a majority of the Hayward school board—including McGee, Reynoso and Board President Lisa Brunner—for “still creating chaos” for the last decade or more.

A variation of the criticism is common among Hayward business leaders and some elected officials, but the audience last Wednesday may not have taken kindly to criticizing a progressive Democrat like McGee, which the group had endorsed for re-election two years ago.

Taylor did not receive the central committee's endorsement, which went to appointed incumbent Councilmember Elisa Marquez and newcomer Matt McGrath, a former department head for the City of Hayward.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Union spent $140k to get Hayward's Measure C on ballot; city's old guard balks at labor's intrusion

Some of the 13,000 signatures SEIU Local 1021
submittted last January to the Hayward city clerk.
HAYWARD | MEASURE C | It’s one thing for a group to file a local ballot measure and other to fund the fees and people power needed to gather enough signatures for qualification on the ballot.

A truly grassroots effort like the one being led in Alameda to enact rent control relies on volunteers pounding the pavement and cajoling signatures from residents. Others like the ballot measure backed by SEIU Local 1021in Hayward to move its municipal elections from June to November can be costly.

Outsourcing signature-gatherers is an expensive proposition. In Hayward, for instance, SEIU Local 1021 spent over $140,000 for the task of generating 13,000 signatures, according to campaign finance records, and that was just through the end of 2015. The amount includes expenditures to the efforts consultant.

Measure C opponenet say SEIU Local 1021
is trying to buy Hayward elections.
The large outlay from the union, conversely, may bolster the argument made by some Hayward elected officials that “special interests” are trying to dictate the city’s business. Incidentally, these are same officials who greatly angered SEIU Local 1021 two years ago by imposing wage cuts on Hayward city workers.

Measure C, as it is now called successfully qualifying for the November election earlier this year. Hayward is the only city in Alameda County that has not made the switch from June elections to November when voter participation is much greater.

Overcoming voter apathy has been difficult in Hayward. Over the last three election cycles, Hayward voters have avoided the ballot box in large numbers. During the last presidential election year in 2012, just 28 percent of voters in the city cast a ballot in the June primary. Twenty-two percent of Hayward voters participated in the June 2014 mayoral and council election.

The old guard in Hayward, including retired Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele, former Alameda County Sheriff Charlie Plummer and former Hayward Councilmember Kevin Dowling oppose the measure. "They believe their big money will have more influence in a long, crowded, expensive November election than June," the opposiiton Measure C camp says on its web site. "Our local Hayward issues and candidates too often get lost in a barrage of money fueled ads, mailers, robocalls for November national/statewide races."

Another opponent, former state senator and Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney, in fact, railed against the union-backed measure during an Alameda County Central Committee meeting in early March that some elected members found shrill and tone deaf to the very progressive and labor-friendly group. The central committee later endorsed Measure C.

When making endorsements, Swalwell forgets who's running for Alameda County Superior Court judge

Rep. Eric Swalwell, center, claims he didn't 
know David Lim, left, and Scott Jackson, right,
are in the same judicial race this June.
SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE | A contested Superior Court judicial campaign in rare in Alameda County and three in one cycle is unheard of.

This year, three candidates are seeking to replace Alameda County Superior Court Judge Lawrence Appel’s retirement in the most competitive race, and two have the endorsement of Rep. Eric Swalwell.

How did that happen?

Like Swalwell, David Lim and Scott Jackson have backgrounds as Alameda County deputy district attorneys and are former colleagues. But Swalwell's endorsements could not be characterized as being split as sometimes is the case.

Swalwell, though claimed to one of the candidates, that he was unaware Lim and Jackson were facing each other in the same judicial contest.

The excuse sounds ridiculous and could very well be, but among the three open Superior Court spots, several different candidates switched the seat they were running before the deadline last month.

Barbara Thomas, the third candidate in the race labeled Number 1, for instance, was initially seeking judicial seat Number 14.

That seat was later cleared of Thomas, a former Alameda councilmember, and others, for Piedmont Mayor Margaret Fujioka, who has significantly more backing from the establishment along with greater campaign resources.

Another thing to watch in these judicial races is an oddity among other campaigns that forbids negative campaigning and for candidates to express any opinions that could later point to bias on a particular issue, if they are successfully elected to the bench.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Former staffer who instigated House ethics probe says Honda is not unethical

Rep. Mike Honda's future in Congress may rest
on a pending House ethics investigation.
The former congressional staffer who may ultimately cause the end of Rep. Mike Honda’s political career this fall following the past disclosure of allegedly incriminating emails, now says the eight-time congressman is not unethical.

Ruchit Agrawal, who was once employed by Honda’s district office, is known as the whistle blower who first alerted the local press about internal emails that allegedly reveal Honda’s official and campaign office coordinated his re-election efforts in 2012 and 2014.

Shortly after, supporters of Democratic challenger Ro Khanna contacted the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate the allegations against Honda. The result of the investigation is still pending.

In a interview, Agrawal criticized Khanna for seeking a rematch with Honda following his four-point defeat in November 2014. “Is it really the right thing to do to go down this path where you’re going to spend a million some dollars on television, calling a fellow Democrat unethical when you know and everybody knows Congressman Honda is not an unethical person?”

Agrawal added, “ambition is driving the Khanna campaign, not service.”

He also said attention on the so-called “1,000 Cranes” strategy to link certain benefits from the congressional office to donors of the Honda’s campaign was misconstrued by the media. Agrawal said his comment during a 2012 campaign retreat was a generalization that donors typically believe they receive perks in exchange for campaign contributions.

Some Honda supporters had previously accused Agrawal of being a disgruntled former employee intent on aiding Khanna’s cause. However, he expressed admiration for his former boss, calling his time working with Honda a "real privilege."

Listen to the entire interview on this week's East Bay Citizen Podcast