Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Miley's advisory board chair tells Castro Valley to vote out Wieckowski, Quirk

Assemblymember Bill Quirk may not know why
he deserved to be singled-out during a tumultuous
meeting May 9 in Castro Valley.
CASTRO VALLEY | Some members of Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley’s hand-picked community advisory board in Castro Valley don’t think much of state Sen. Bob Wieckowski and Assemblymember Bill Quirk, or, unions, for that matter.

At a Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Committee (CVMAC) meeting last week, a Miley loyalist on the unincorporated area’s de facto city government told an overflow audience of upset Castro Valleyans to vote Wieckowski and Quirk out of office. The comments were made with Miley in attendance.

The committee’s chair Marc Crawford made the public call following two hours of venting by residents upset over a maneuver by labor to block the arrival of a non-union grocery store to town.

An official from the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) had filed an appeal using the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to momentarily block plans for Sprouts grocery store to move into a portion of the current Rite-Aid on Castro Valley Boulevard.

At times, the tenor of the meeting included several strongly-worded anti-union comments by residents and later the diatribe from Crawford.

“Really the problems we're having are not county-related, they’re state-related,” Crawford told the crowd. “I’ll be honest with you—and I’m not speaking as MAC chair, I’m speaking as a voter—but the problem is we just vote for an incumbent.” Crawford later referred to Castro Valley’s two state legislators by name, while singling out Wieckowski, who has endorsed Miley's re-election; Quirk has not.

Crawford asserted Wieckowski led charge to block state legislation to reform CEQA simply because it was authored by a Republican legislator. Some believe CEQA is abused to halt unfavorable projects under the guise of false environmental concerns. “It’s like c’mon, what does it matter if it was brought up by a Republican. Let’s just fix it,” said Crawford.

Later, after voicing the perspective of labor unions, Crawford reacted to opposition coming from the audience, by saying, “I’m just telling you what they said, I’m not agreeing with them,” and minimizing the overall strength of unions, by calling them a “small voice.”

“These few people are stopping us,” said Crawford. “Unfortunately, that’s how the system is set up.”

This isn’t the first time Crawford has created problems for Miley, despite the supervisor’s loyalty toward the Castro Valley contractor who given thousands of dollars to Miley’s campaigns. In addition, Crawford, as chair of the local California Apartment Association, directed $8,000 in campaign contributions earlier this year to Miley’s current re-election campaign.

Because Castro Valley is not a city, the CVMAC exists to allow residents to make recommendations to Miley. However, some community members have recently questioned Miley's unfettered power to name and replace committee members, often times, they argue, with political cronies. Several members of the current CVMAC are also contributors to Miley's campaigns.

One community group advocated recently to require future CVMAC members to be chosen by a vot of the people. But, Miley failed to gain support for the proposal from his colleagues on the Board of Supervisors. On occasion, Crawford's reaction to the proposal has emboldened its proponents following several instances when he disparaged the group on social media and in the weekly community newspaper.

But, when it comes to campaign finance, Miley’s stance in support of Sprouts in Castro Valley and the anti-union furor at the meeting, will likely upset labor. UFCW Local 5, for one, gave more than $2,500 this year to Miley's campaign. Furthermore, the Alameda Labor Council, which UFCW is a part, gave $10,000 last April for Miley's bid to stave off the upstart candidacy of Bryan Parker this June.

Miley, though, pledged fairness last week to all sides, but only made supporting remarks in favor of the UFCW member who filed the CEQA complaint and not Wieckowski or Quirk.

“I’m not going to disparage organized labor. I think they play a vital role in our society,” said Miley. “It is my role and my job to represent everybody, whether they’re from corporate America, whether they’re from the grassroots community, or whatever ethnicity or gender they are, or wherever they live.”

A former CVMAC member Cheryl Miraglia, a strong voice in opposition to the union’s gambit over the grocery store, also disparaged labor, in addition, to distributing a leaflet containing the address of the person who filed the CEQA appeal.

Miley later told the audience not to blame the union member. “Don’t hate the player, hate the game,” he said.