Sunday, January 31, 2016

Khanna begins election year with more than three times the cash of Honda

Ro Khanna's ability to raise large amounts of
campaign cash continued in 2015.
CA17 CAMPAIGN FINANCE | As was the case two years ago, Ro Khanna will begin his second bid for the 17th Congressional District with a large fundraising advantage over incumbent Rep. Mike Honda.

Khanna reported more than $1.7 million cash on hand, according to year-end campaign finance reports. The amount is more than three times greater than his Democratic rival reported in year-end cash reserves..

Khanna's stellar fourth quarter report also showed the campaign raised $501,808 from October of last year through Dec. 31, while spending just $117,884. For the year, Khanna raised $2.1 million, according to his finance report, and disbursed $478,753.

Honda, who consistently struggled to match Khanna's prolific fundraising numbers during the 2014 campaign before winning re-election, reported $572,199 in available cash through Dec. 31. Additionally, Honda raised $292,211 during the fourth quarter of last year, while topping $1.3 million for the entire year.

Included in Honda's $276,600 worth of fourth quarter expenditures is $86,225 for legal and public relations services related to the ongoing House ethics investigation into whether his former staffs blurred the lines between campaign and official duties.

         ----4TH QTR----     ----2015----
CA17          IN      OUT         IN     OUT       CASH
KHANNA   501,808  117,884  2,140,636 478,753 $1,709,881 
HONDA    292,211  276,600  1,308,436 845,599 $  572,199

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Swanson, Skinner block each others bids for Dem Party state senate endorsement

State Senate candidate Nancy Skinner speaking
to Democratic Party delegates Saturday in Oakland.
The East Bay's hotly-contested Ninth State Senate District race between Nancy Skinner and Sandre Swanson will be waged without either carrying the banner of the California Democratic Party this primary season.

The pair of well-known former East Bay assemblymembers failed to gain a simple majority of Alameda County Democratic Party delegates at a pre-primary endorsement meeting Saturday afternoon in Oakland.

The party's threshold for continuing the endorsement process through to next month's statewide convention is 50 percent. But, neither came close to the mark.

Sandre Swanson received the most votes at
the party's pre-endorsement meeting.
Swanson, though, received the most votes from party delegates, winning 45 of 121 ballots cast. Skinner received 41, followed by 35 votes for "no endorsement."

Saturday’s outcome was expected with the only question being an outside shot of one candidate achieving a simple majority.

“I’m fine with the vote,” said Swanson. “I got the most votes. If I keep doing that, you know, I’ll win the primary and win the general.”

With delegates divided over two favorites seeking to replace the termed out State Sen. Loni Hancock in the district covering most of the Greater East Bay, Skinner said, reaching the requisite 70 percent of delegates Saturday needed for the party's endorsement would have been difficult.

“It’s really hard to imagine--given that we have two good Democrats--that we would ever reach that threshold," said Skinner. "So, this is actually a great outcome and it’s an appropriate outcome.”

A third candidate, Democrat Katherine Welch, also sought the party’s endorsement, but received no votes. The first-time candidate from Piedmont is the daughter of former General Electric chairman Jack Welch.

On the other side of the aisle, Republican San Pablo Councilmember Rich Kinney is also campaigning in the June 7 primary.

Honda fails to nail down important Democratic Party endorsement

Rep. Mike Honda, left, fell just short of winning
the Democratic Party's pre-endorsement in 
Oakland over Ro Khanna.
CA17 PRE-ENDORSEMENT | Rep. Mike Honda will have to wait another month before he can think about winning the state Democratic Party’s endorsement.

The 16-year incumbent, who is facing fellow Democrat Ro Khanna in a rematch of their close fought campaign in the 17th Congressional District, failed to win the requisite percentage of votes Saturday afternoon to secure the party’s endorsement outright.

Honda captured 58 of 86 votes (67.4 percent) at the pre-endorsement caucus in Oakland. Candidates who capture 70 percent of ballots cast are placed on the consent calendar for approval by the statewide party at their convention Feb. 26-28 in San Jose. Honda, though, fell two votes short.

Khanna, who had raised questions about the potential for voting irregularities at the weekend caucus, received just 15 votes, but the tally was enough, including 13 “no endorsement” votes, to block Honda’s smooth path to the valuable backing of the Democratic Party.

Honda, however, is still a favorite to win the endorsement next month, but Saturday’s setback is likely to raise questions of whether Honda’s once rock-solid support among the Democratic rank-and-file is, indeed, wavering in the midst of a still-pending House ethics investigation.

“It’s a huge victory,” said Khanna. “Mike Honda has been in politics for 40 years. He's appointed many of these delegates, so for him to have 30 percent vote against him, it’s a statement of his eroding support.” Khanna, added, he intends to take his argument for the party’s backing to next month's convention.

Honda did not attend Saturday’s pre-endorsement meeting. His campaign said Honda was attending the funeral of a close family member.

Honda's campaign, in a statement, said, “Despite not receiving the 70 percent threshold, our campaign is thankful for the overwhelming support we received from CD-17 pre-endorsement candidates. Sixty-seven percent shows that we have grassroots backing to win in November.

“We know this election is one of the most hotly-contested congressional races in the nation and our campaign will fight tooth and nail through Election Day.”

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Voice mail from Honda campaign to party delegate is coercion, says Khanna

Rep. Mike Honda speaking to a voter Jan. 21
at a candidates forum in San Jose.
PHOTO/Steven Tavares
With the possibility the crucial Democratic Party endorsement may no longer be a certainty, Rep. Mike Honda’s campaign is scrambling to gather enough votes to win outright Saturday’s pre-primary endorsement vote in Oakland. But, a voice message from a member of Honda’s campaign this week to a voting delegate is being labeled coercion by Democratic challenger Ro Khanna.

In a voice message obtained by the East Bay Citizen, Honda’s political director questioned the voting status of a member of the Santa Clara County Democratic Club before advising the delegate not to cast a ballot for the coming pre-endorsement until further notice.

“All I ask that you please do not submit your ballot for the Santa Clara County Democratic club until I clear this up. I know last night was a no endorsement, but there might be something in the making here,” said the voice message.

Last Monday, the club, typically a Honda stronghold, voted for no endorsement in the race. The tally, in fact, favored Khanna, 80-51, but fell short of the club’s threshold for endorsement. At the same endorsement meeting, club members were asked afterwards to approve a proposal to allow one delegate to vote for Honda and the other vote for Khanna at the pre-endorsement. The idea was voted down by the club's membership. A day later, one of the club’s delegates received a call from Honda’s political director, Vedant Patel.

Patel confirmed he made the phone call. He denied the intent was to strong-arm the delegate into voting in a manner positive to the Honda campaign, but only to confirm their voting status. The campaign also reached out to the state party for additional information.

"The hallmark of democracy is a fair and open and transparent process,” Khanna said of the voice message. “As a challenger, you expect to have the deck stacked against you because of the incumbent’s power to appoint. But, my basic hope is that delegates are allowed to vote their conscience or follow their clubs election outcome free of coercion."

Patel said he was only seeking clarification of whether the delegate was bound to the endorsement of the club. “It is important to our campaign that delegates have all the information before casting a vote,” said Patel. “This is just another example of our opponent’s willingness to say anything to get elected. At the end of the day there is only one candidate in Congressional District 17 that embodies the values of California’s Democratic Party, and that is Mike Honda.”

There are clear reasons why identifying a delegate's status is important to Honda and his bid to avoid a potentially embarrassing denial of pre-endorsement support and a drawn out appeal for the party’s backing at its convention in late February. A central committee member, according to the party bylaws, can vote their conscience, while a delegate may be bound by its club’s decision.

The California Democratic Party bylaws are silent on the question of whether a delegate must vote as directed by its club, said Michael Soller, communications director for the California Democratic Party. But, many, like the Santa Clara County Democratic Club, have their own bylaws that bound delegates to certain voting instructions. But, come Saturday's pre-endorsement meeting, there are no rules against a delegate voting differently than their club's direction. However, the club could later sanction its member.

In recent weeks, the number of local Democratic grassroots groups that have either split their endorsement between Honda and Khanna or registered no endorsement has grown in frequency. In the last week and a half, three clubs, including the Santa Clara County Democratic Club, have rendered no-endorsement decisions. In addition, the Khanna campaign has been buoyed over the past few months by uncertainty over Honda’s pending House ethics investigation into allegations his former campaign commingled its duties with its congressional office.

Even if Khanna is able to block Honda from winning the requisite 70 percent of delegates at the pre-endorsement meeting, Honda could still earn the nod at the February convention. However, the political optics of the long-time incumbent fighting further for the party's endorsement will only bolster the Khanna campaign's recent narrative that Democrats in the South Bay are beginning to reevaluate their support for Honda

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

It's 3am, do you know what the Alameda City Council is doing? City staff isn't sure

Alameda Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft
reviewed the nine-hour Jan. 5 meeting and
concluded she looked "punch drunk."
ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | After more than five hours of public testimony at the Jan. 6 Alameda City Council meeting, Mayor Trish Spencer called for a 10-minute break. At 12:35 a.m., and with little evidence the council's deliberations over three proposed rent ordinances was near, Alameda City Attorney Janet Kern gathered during the brief interval some city staff members to discuss a recommendation to resume the meeting at a later date.

Not only did city staff and the few remaining audience members look weary, but the council appeared gassed by the long evening. In addition, the decision to move the meeting to the much-larger Kofman Auditorium was apparently made without any considerations beforehand for turning on the heat.

Wrapped in a thick coat and scarf, Kern recommended the council approve the soon-to-lapse 65-day moratorium on rents and evictions--which they did--but they neglected to get around to putting off further deliberations for another day. Instead, the council debated finer points of a future rent ordinance for the next three hours. On a bitterly cold and rainy night, the council meeting did not end until after 4 a.m.

Now, city staff says they are not exactly sure what the council directed them to do regarding the potential rent ordinance slated to be discussed Feb. 16. Last week, Alameda Interim City Manager Liz Warmerdam asked to schedule an agenda item for the Feb. 2 meeting to allow city staff to pin down details from the marathon early January meeting. “We want to get a better understanding of what you all agreed to,” said Warmerdam. “Our goal is not to rehash Jan. 5, but to get clarification.”

The intention, still, is for the Feb. 16 council meeting to render an up or down determination for a permanent rent control ordinance, said Councilmember Jim Oddie. In the meantime, he added, “There is some confusion in the community over what we reached consensus on.”

At the Jan. 5 meeting it was unclear why the council never weighed-in on the merits of suspending the discussion, despite Mayor Trish Spencer initially broaching the subject. Instead, Councilmember Frank Matarrese began a lengthy explanation of his stance on the various rent ordinances and the issue of moving the discussion to another day was never again mentioned.

Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft said she reviewed video of the meeting and found the early morning discussion a bit disconcerting, especially for an issue as important to Alameda as rent protections. “It doesn’t make you proud. I’ll speak for myself,” said Ashcraft. “I sounded punch drunk.”

Monday, January 25, 2016

Democratic Party support on the line in heated races for state senate, congress

SD7: Nancy Skinner and Sandre Swanson
The cynics say the reward of vigorously vying to be the choice of the statewide Democratic Party merely amounts for the privilege of placing a graphical badge on their Website and subsequent mailers.

But for the two most anticipated primary races in the East Bay, the party's exclusive endorsement may be the difference between winning and losing, but also a guide for where influential donors and independent expenditures committees place their bets from here to November.

Going into Saturday's Alameda County Democratic Party pre-endorsement meeting, uncertainty remains over the local leadership's choice in the likely intraparty Ninth State Senate race between former Assemblymembers Nancy Skinner and Sandre Swanson and the Rep. Mike Honda-Ro Khanna rematch in the 17th Congressional District.

CA17: Rep. Mike Honda and Ro Khanna
Past loyalties and pressure from surrogates attached to all four campaigns is making it difficult for party delegates to decide their votes come Saturday.

Beginning with the state senate race, the sheer number of early big-name Democratic Party endorsements for Swanson campaign would, in most instances, would translate to his campaign getting the nod. However, the stated support for Swanson coming from popular incumbents like Rep, Barbara Lee, Assemblymember Rob Bonta and current office holder State Sen. Loni Hancock is not translating to early widespread enthusiasm elsewhere.

There are indications Swanson's forthcoming campaign finance report will match last summer's rather lackluster mid-year tally. In fact, the long shot candidacy of Piedmont Democrat Katherine Welch may have outraised Swanson during the last six months of last year, according to sources. Such an outcome is giving some Democratic operatives reason to pause whether Swanson can overcome Skinner prohibitive war chest, which opened with more than $925,000. Swanson reported just over $80,000 in cash last July.

But here's where self-interested Swanson supporters like Bonta and Lee may lean hard on delegates to back the long-time Oakland and Alameda representative. For this group, past political favors may be called in for Swanson. The anxiety will follow for some because there is growing consensus that Skinner, not Swanson is the best candidate.

Meanwhile, in the 17th Congressional District, Khanna has been able in recent weeks to limit Honda's ability to gain once perfunctory support among Silicon Valley Democratic clubs. For Khanna, even a no-endorsement is a major victory for his campaign. The same scenario exists for Khanna at the pre-endorsement meeting where even blocking Honda's ability to win the backing will be a major headline. Honda could still cobble together support for the endorsement and the statewide convention next month, but the blow to his campaign might remain through the June primary.

Last week, Khanna said his campaign had succeeded in getting enough support among pre-endorsement voters add the race to Saturday's agenda. The key for Honda among open-minded pre-endorsement voters may simply come down to how well he articulates his case this Saturday.

Those who witnessed Honda's speech earlier this month to the Democratic Club of Sunnyvale say it was inspiring, classic Honda. However, other appearances have been uneven, including last week's forum at the Berryessa-North San Jose Democratic Club where Honda appeared sullen, distracted and often pondered simple questions like "Why are you best candidate?" with long pauses.

Khanna's inroads with grassroots groups appear to growing and the margin between Honda winning the pre-endorsement and losing is shrinking. Another performance from Honda devoid of passion might be the difference. It may also be moment where Democratic donors shut off the spigot of money flowing towards Honda.

For Glazer, an exercise in mixing bipartisanship and party politics

State Sen. Steve Glazer and Assemblymember
Catharine Baker at a town hall Saturday in Orinda.
LEGISLATURE | Democratic State Sen. Steve Glazer says there’s a place and time for campaigns and politics, but Saturday morning was reserved for the constituents that he and Republican Assemblymember Catharine Baker jointly represent in their mostly Contra Costa County districts. Out to prove both sides of the political spectrum can work together during this age of partisan rancor, Glazer found the town hall experience surprisingly rewarding. “It’s not so scary. It’s kind of civil,” Glazer told an agreeing audience.

For both freshman legislators, extolling the virtues of bipartisanship in an age of government gridlock has proven to be sound politics. Each struck a chord in the past two years with large numbers of decidedly moderate voters. Baker easily defeated a well-funded Democrat two years ago and Glazer did the same by defeating Susan Bonilla in an expensive special election last May. “You’re seeing change right here,” said Glazer. And neither would have been elected, he said, without their zeal for bipartisanship. “We represent change and we need to keep it going.”

Baker, a Republican, could benefit from the 
appearance of Glazer's support as she faces
a tough re-election this year against a 
member of Glazer's Democratic Party.
On various fronts, Glazer is the unlikely poster boy for change. His persona and verbal deliver is dry, almost clinical, and more like a mortician than agent of political reform in uncompromising Sacramento. He believes the key to governance is simple. “Just represent your district. That’s a high bar,” he said sarcastically.

Baker arrives at the near center-right hand of the political spectrum less because of bipartisanship, but political survival. Being a Republican in the East Bay is somewhat akin to not only finding yourself on the Endangered Species List, but also the last of your own kind. Her election represented the return of an East Bay Republican to Sacramento for the first time in six years. “Bipartisanship takes courage,” said Baker. It also forces a legislator to be more creative in finding consensus with Democrats, she said.

However, if last weekend was any indication, Baker appeared less willing to dance with Glazer when it came to publicly acknowledging their similarities. On at least four separate occasions Saturday Glazer verbalized agreement over certain issues, but Baker failed to do the same. At least, in a manner specifically coupling their similar viewpoints. For instance, on barring public transportation employees from striking: “We’re in total agreement,” said Glazer. Baker, who is clearly on the same page, merely stated her ongoing reasons for opposing BART strikes. Earlier, Glazer added, “We don’t always agree, but I’m finding we agree more often.”

Whether this is a marriage of political convenience remains to be seen. Sitting before a fairly large number of voters for a Saturday morning in Orinda, Glazer and Baker sat at a table upright and expressionless, almost like a soon-to-be divorced couple in a lawyer’s office finalizing the splitting of their marital assets. Yet, despite the scene, the notion of a Democrat and Republican holding a joint legislative town hall is noteworthy for the typically one-sided deep blue world of East Bay politics.

While local Democratic politicos seem to have decided against challenging one of their own this election season in Glazer, who despite being a registered Democrat, is loathed by labor unions. Special interests groups and Big Labor have twice spent large amounts of money in an effort to derail his political aspirations. Glazer is running for a full four years in the State Senate after serving out the remaining term of Rep. Mark DeSaulnier. Instead, party leaders, including the outgoing assembly speaker, believe Democrats can take back Baker’s seat. And that's the problem many rank-and-file Democrats have with Glazer's aggressive association with Baker.

To them, Glazer’s appearances with Baker—Saturday was the second of six town halls together—may undermine the chances of Democrat Cheryl Cook-Kallio, a former Pleasanton councilmember who announced her candidacy in the 16th Assembly District in November. In fact, one of Glazer’s first comments Saturday appears destined to be a direct mailer compliments of the Baker for Assembly re-election campaign. “I have a very strong partner in Catharine Baker,” Glazer said. When asked about the inherent conflict occurring during a contentious election year, Glazer said in an interview. “That’s politics. There’s a time and place for that.”

“It’s going to happen at some point, but this is the time for governing. I know that political hub-bub will happen as we get closer to November and I’ve never been one to rush that ahead,” he said.

Back in 2010, Glazer recalls Gavin Newsom was busy organizing over 20 town halls in an early bid for governor later to include Jerry Brown. "The people said, Jerry, ‘Why aren’t you declaring?’” said Glazer. “Our focus was let him do his job. There will be a time for politics.”

In terms of this year's anticipated election cycle including Baker's re-election against Cook-Kallio, Glazer said, “I know there’s a political tint that will come... There always will be the observers making the assertion that something is a political choice.”

Glazer, in fact, isn’t the only moderate Democrat in the area who has hobnobbed recently with Baker. Rep. Eric Swalwell, who represents a portion of the same district in Congress, appeared in a town hall last year with Baker and shared a byline for an opinion piece on regional transportation.

The nexus is also the common bond Glazer and Baker struck with the constant drumbeat both pounded in opposition of the BART strikes starting more than two years ago. While the rest of the Bay Area has long moved on from those days of workday transportation uncertainty that paralyzed the region, for Contra Costa County voters the issue is a focal point of scorn toward government inaction and general distaste for labor unions.

Over the weekend, Glazer penned an opinion piece warning of another disruption in train service on the horizon. On Saturday, Baker also remarked of another strike within the next 18 months if both sides do not begin negotiations in earnest. The latter posed by Baker as a looming threat. In this front, Glazer and Baker not only share a common constituency, but also seemingly perpetual wedge issue likely to drive Democrats mad and allow Republicans to ponder a path to respectability in the East Bay.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Honda receives a setback: Two no-endorsements from grassroots clubs

Rep. Mike Honda failed to gain two-thirds of
Berryessa-North San Jose Democratic Club 
members needed for its endorsement.
Ro Khanna’s seemingly perpetual upstart campaign to unseat Rep. Mike Honda may be gaining traction among some local grassroots Democratic clubs.

More precisely, there are signs in recent weeks that some of these groups which ultimately will register their support at the all-important Democratic Party pre-endorsement meeting next week, are rethinking their support for the incumbent Honda.

Recently, Khanna was able to gain a split endorsement from the Democratic Club of Sunnyvale. Then just this week, Honda failed to gain requisite amounts of support from two local groups typically aligned with the incumbent congressmember—the Fremont-based Tri-Cities Democratic Forum and the Berryessa-North San Jose Democratic Club. In each case, the clubs offered no-endorsements in the 17th Congressional District primary.

Ro Khanna addressing the Berryessa-North San
Jose Democratic Club Thursday night.
The decisions mean the club’s delegates won’t be allowed to vote at the Alameda County Democratic Party pre-endorsement meeting to be held in Oakland on Jan. 30. In addition, the smaller number of delegates next week could potentially aid Khanna in blocking the early pre-endorsement. Seventy percent of party delegates are needed for any candidate to win the pre-endorsement. For any Democratic candidate, the statewide party's imprimatur is one of the most valuable endorsements available.

But, even if Khanna is able to force a no-endorsement next week, Honda’s campaign could still snag the endorsement at the convention, held this year in San Jose. This storyline occurred in 2014, when Ellen Corbett denied a pre-endorsement victory for Rep. Eric Swalwell in the 15th District. Using endorsement rules that no longer exist in the party's bylaws, Swalwell was able to cobble together enough support to win the endorsement at the convention.

However, the optics of Honda fighting for the support of the party’s cognoscenti who have long supported him, would strongly bolster the narrative pushed by the Khanna campaign that grassroots support for Honda is quickly dwindling.

Following Thursday night’s Berryessa-North San Jose Democratic Club candidates forum, which also featured Honda and Republican candidate Ron Cohen, addressing the group separately, Khanna told the East Bay Citizen the recent votes are “shocking.”

“Combined with Sunnyvale’s endorsement and the Tri Cities Democratic Forum no-endorsement, it suggests party leaders are beginning to see change is coming. They’re warming up to me,” said Khanna.

Vedant Patel, political director for the Honda campaign, said there is no changing of the tide in the race toward Khanna. "The only thing changing here is the level of what our perpetual candidate opponent will do and say to get elected,” said Patel.

“In 2014 he decried the influence of PACs and lobbyists, but then sat back in approval when a Super PAC bankrolled by right wing corporate millionaires and billionaires failed to salvage his near bankrupt campaign. Now he claims to be ‘progressive’ while parroting right-wing talking points of calling Congressman Honda an ‘old school liberal.’ Party leaders like Nancy Pelosi, Zoe Lofgren, Chairman John Burton, Vice-Chair Eric Bauman aren't buying Ro's version of 'change' which is why they are standing shoulder to shoulder with Congressman Honda once again."

Whether the small number of actually voting club members represents activist Democrats are indeed rethinking the race is debatable. In addition to the 23 who voted Thursday night, the Tri Cities Democratic Forum no-endorsement was decided by just 45 voting members.

"What does the voting tonight say about the race?" said Tim Orozco, president of the Berryessa-North San Jose Democratic Club and former San Jose City Council candidate. "What it says is both candidates are running robust campaigns that are resonating with all Democratic voters.”

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Union to Hayward: Don't 'rip the scab’ by appealing unfair labor practices finding

Hayward City Manager Fran David's unwavering
stances against union city workers was found to
be improper, according a legal finding.
After Hayward city employees--working without a contract for two years--agreed to a new contract last summer, they believed labor peace was at hand. But a state Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) ruling in late December found many of their complaints against the city, especially claims of unfair labor practices and an illegal wage cut, were true.

Now, members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021, which represent nearly 300 city workers, say Hayward’s intention to appeal the ruling will only reignite membership's lingering animosity toward management.

“I’m asking you to graciously acknowledge the war is over,” said Linda Reid, a Hayward city employee and union member, told the Hayward City Council on Tuesday. The city’s potential decision to appeal the PERB ruling will also waste taxpayers money, she said.

The state Personnel Employee Relations Board
also found a three-day strike by workers was a
result of the city's unfair labor practices.
Gilbert Hesia, another Hayward employee and member of SEIU’s negotiating team, asked the city council to publicly explain why each is supporting an appeal that will “rip the scab off and rub dirt in a situation where we want to move forward.”

During a closed session meeting late Tuesday afternoon the Hayward City Council discussed the PERB ruling, but made no reportable decision. Another closed session meeting on the topic is scheduled for Jan. 26.

The administrative law judge's 102-page report faulted the city’s bargaining methods with the union, including a clear pattern of avoiding to even negotiate the simplest points of contention, in addition to illegally threatening layoffs if the city’s demands were not met.

The ruling also called into question some of the city’s stated budget figures during the two-year labor standoff, especially evidence of a $20 million shortfall reported early in the tenuous labor talks.

The controversial five percent wage imposition that the Hayward City Council approved in 2014 was also found to be improper and was ordered to be rescinded by the city along with the reimbursement of lost wages resulting in the unilateral wage cut.

The outcome of the PERB ruling may also greatly impact the electoral chances of four candidates for seeking election to the Hayward City Council this June. Four stated candidates, including three incumbents, strongly supported the city’s previous labor strategy while also voting for the imposition.

Why each of them voiced strong support for what has now been found to be an illegal bargaining strategy could be the biggest question facing the council race that will reward the top four finishers with seats on the next city council.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Bryan Parker posts big early fundraising numbers in bid to unseat Nate Miley

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, left,
is hoping to fend off Bryan Parker this June.
Bryan Parker’s nascent campaign for Alameda County supervisor is showing mettle after posting year-end fundraising totals of $117,000, his campaign announced Wednesday.

The totals, compiled since Parker began his campaign last September to unseat long-time Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, are some of the largest seen by any supervisorial challenger in years.

Parker’s fundraising figures also signal the June primary campaign will be a hard-fought affair, a first for a portion of local government that has rarely seen an incumbent supervisor face a contested race over the past three decades.

Miley’s campaign has not yet released its 2015 year-end campaign finance report, but through the end of last June, Miley had reported just 4,043 in available cash. However, that was wiped out by $4,407 in outstanding debts to his campaign.

Although not known as a prodigious fundraiser, Miley’s campaign is expected to have ramped up his fundraising over the past few months with help from former state Senate pro tem Don Perata, who is believed to be aiding Miley's effort.

Perata supported Parker’s bid in 2014 for Oakland mayor and reportedly sent him a highly negative letter urging Parker not to run for county supervisor. Instead, suggesting Parker run in 2016 for Oakland’s City Council District Seven or Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan’s at-large seat.

That Parker was able to post such significant early fundraising is not surprising based on his 2014 mayoral campaign. During that race, which Parker finished seventh in a 15-person field, he posted over $300,000 in campaign contributions in a race that limits donations to $700.

The general consensus among East Bay politicos is Parker could register similarly high fundraising amounts since the county caps contributions at $20,000.

In addition to Miley and Parker, a third candidate, Ronald Pereira, has filed campaign papers with the county registrar to represent the supervisorial district that includes East Oakland, large portions of unincorporated Alameda County and Pleasanton.


Keimach becomes Alameda's next city manager; mayor inexplicably votes no

Jill Keimach's four-year contract includes a
$245,000 annual base salary.
Alameda named its next city manager Tuesday night, but without the support of Mayor Trish Spencer. In an almost unprecedented move, Spencer was the lone vote against officially hiring Jill Keimach as the city’s new city manager. Spencer also opposed in closed session earlier this month to offer Keimach the job.

Spencer did not elaborate on the reasons behind her vote, except to say, “I do not plan to support this… and with all due respect to my colleagues and to Jill Keimach, who will be our next city manager, I respectfully disagree that this is the appropriate choice for the future of our city.”

Later Spencer told Action Alameda News that Keimach's breadth of experience was lacking for a bigger city like Alameda.“We are a real, mid-sized city, and active city, not a small city,” Spencer said. “This is not a good time for Alameda to be a training ground for a city manager. We need a city manager who’s ready to go. It’s a great opportunity for her. The other side of that is that it’s a risk for our city. I think she has potential, I don’t think Alameda has time. We need a city manager to lead now. It’s not easy.”

Over questions of why she did not follow the council's lead in supporting Keimach's appointment, despite a clear consensus among her colleagues, she told the site, “I believe people expect me to vote what I believe in. If I don’t believe in something, I don’t put my name on it."

In most municipalities there exists an unspoken expectation that city councils unanimously, if not symbolically, approve the hiring of city managers. In some cases, the lack of unanimity has resulted in the candidate removing themselves from consideration. Keimach, however, isn't going anywhere. Duirng Tuesday night's meeting she expressed honor for being chosen to lead the city's day-to-day operations.

Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer offered no
specific reasons why she opposed Keimach
as the city's next city manager.
But, the mayor’s no vote appeared to have rankled some of her colleagues. Alameda Councilmember Frank Matarrese pointedly mentioned during his remarks that four members had voted for Keimach's hiring. Alameda Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, also made veiled remarks toward Spencer’s opposition by noting the mayor going forward should acknowledge the will of the entire council supports Keimach. While referencing advice she was once given, Ashcraft said of the council, “We don’t do things as an individual.”

Alameda Councilmember Tony Daysog added he believed Keimach’s tenure as Moraga's town manager was effective and conciliatory. “I’m very pleased that we selected Ms. Keimach and I think Alamedans, in general, will be confident in the selection that we made,” said Daysog. 

Councilmember Jim Oddie agreed and said discussions with the city’s panel of community members tasked with vetting candidates also viewed Keimach positively. Spencer, though, questioned whether Oddie’s comments violated the panel’s confidentiality and later said she disagreed with Oddie’s characterization of the panel’s sentiment toward Keimach.

Despite the disagreement, Keimach’s hiring ends a seven-month search to replace John Russo, who left Alameda in May for the same position in Riverside, Calif. Liz Warmerdam has served as interim city manager since. She will remain in Alameda as one of Keimach’s assistant city manager, the city announced last month.

Keimach (pronounced KAI-mack) served the last five years as Moraga’s town manager before stints as community development director in Fremont and El Cerrito. Keimach’s four-year contract will pay her an annual base salary of $245,000. Her  tenure in Alameda begins Mar. 7.

NOTE: Spencer's quotes to Action Alameda News were added to this article.

Republican Sue Caro's campaign for Barbara Lee's seat is doomed, she says, but that isn't the point

Alameda County GOP vice chair Sue Caro was 
one of the masterminds behind the local party's
two big upsets in 2014.
Sue Caro doesn’t believe for a second that she will defeat long-time East Bay Rep. Barbara Lee this year or any other year. But the current vice chair of the Alameda County Republican Party, who announced her candidacy last week, is thinking long-term. You can say she's "In it to win it...somebay." But, at a time when Republicans in the state scramble for any semblance of electoral success, especially in the East Bay, Caro, the political operative, has found success anywhere she can find it.

For instance, Assemblymember Catharine Baker’s big win for East Bay Republicans long shut out of Sacramento, have Caro’s fingerprints all over it as does Democratic stalwart Ellen Corbett’s shocking third-place finish in the 2014 15th Congressional District primary. The latter likely handing the seat for the next generation to Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Tri Valley moderate Democrat grudgingly palatable to conservatives.

Yet, despite her growing resume in Republican circles, Caro is honest about her astronomically-slim chances against the 13th Congressional District juggernaut. but that doesn’t mean Caro isn’t going hard at Lee, who has served Oakland and the East Bay since 1998. The very first thing out of Caro's mouth was, in fact, “First of all, Barbara Lee is a socialist," she said. “She’s not helping us and I don’t think she’s done anything for Oakland, per se.” In addition, Caro was critical of Lee inviting members of Black Lives Matter to her office, a move she described as pandering to her progressive base and ignoring the majority of her constituents. “We have more white people than black people in Oakland,” said Caro, “Not to mention a growing Latino and Asian population.”

Over the years, a litany of fringe candidate seeking Lee’s seat in Congress have lodged some of the same criticisms against the progressive Democrat. Two years ago, Dakin Sundeen, a low-key political neophyte, matched the electoral performance of many of Lee's Republican challengers by garnering only 12 percent of the vote to Lee’s 88 percent. Although Caro doubts Lee will attend any candidate forums this year, she plans to offer voters “a responsible voice” for conservatives. “I won’t embarrass the party,” she adds. She also realizes there will be no campaign funding reserves to draw from and individual contributions will be scant. “The Republican cavalry is not going to come in and save me,” she concedes. But there may be some long-term value by running for the seat.

When it comes to rebuilding the GOP in Alameda County, there’s much work to be done. At roughly seven percent, the number of registered Republicans in the 13th Congressional District is the lowest in the state. But, if beating Lee is out of the question, then doubling the number of GOP votes in the general election is within reach, said Caro. And doing so would also allow Caro to handpick additional delegates to the state Republican convention, thereby furthering her influence and sidestepping what she calls “the crazies” within the far depths of the party.

In this department, Caro has experience. After libertarians supporting Ron Paul attempted to hijack the Alameda County GOP over five years ago, the local party appeared to list toward highlighting symbolic resolutions instead of trying to get Republicans elected. A change in direction quickly followed upon Caro taking over chair of the county party in early 2012. The Paul libertarians were banished and a genuine plan for building an organization capable of identifying conservative political prospects and plugging them into the statewide party’s campaign fundraising opportunities and political connections. Caro, however, still has her detractors in the local party who prefer a more conservative brand of candidate over moderates who may slowly, but incrementally rebuild the party in the East Bay. Yet, Caro’s track record in posting big wins for East Bay Republicans is unquestioned.

In early 2013, Caro and other members of the local party felt the changing demographics of the Sixteenth Assembly District in Contra Costa County and the Tri Valley in Alameda County was ripe for flipping to a shade of red. But, despite Caro’s insistence, statewide leaders ignored her exuberance for a Pleasanton attorney named Catharine Baker who was facing moderate Democrats Tim Sbranti and Steve Glazer in 2014. “They just didn’t believe me,” Caro said of Republican leaders who left Baker’s campaign off its Top Five Target List for funding up-for-grabs legislative races.

Eventually, the party came around and Baker became the first East Bay Republican member of the state legislature since 2008 following the defeat of Sbranti. During the same election cycle, Caro realized the state’s open primary system could be leveraged in the East Bay’s Fifteenth Congressional District intraparty race between Democrats Eric Swalwell and Ellen Corbett.

Caro and another Alameda County GOP member named Hugh Bussell looked at the race and predicted the numbers worked in favor of a Republican squeezing into the general election against the incumbent Swalwell. Bussell filed for the race, raised very little money and posted an upset second-place finish, edging out Corbett, and advancing to November. The upset is one of the most unlikely outcomes in recent Alameda County political history. “We think Eric should have sent a bunch of roses to Hugh,” said Caro.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Watch what you say: Plainclothes Alameda cops monitored renters during council meeting

Interim Alameda City Manager Liz Warmerdam
made the initial call for plainclothes cops to 
monitor the Jan. 5 council meeting.
ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | As renters and landlords filed through the large foyer leading into Alameda's Kofman Auditorium on January 5 to watch the Alameda City Council's latest attempt to address the growing problem of rising rents and evictions on the island, Monty Heying's job was to help renters sign up to speak in front of the council. But Heying, a member of the Alameda Renters Coalition, grew suspicious of three men watching the signup table. "I kept noticing them and was wondering what they were doing," Heying said in a recent interview. "Then, I noticed a commotion and saw handcuffs fall to the ground that made this clattering sound."

Once inside the auditorium, Heying alerted other members of the coalition's leadership about the three men, whom he initially suspected were private security guards, possibly hired by Alameda landlords. Heying then led one renters coalition member to the lobby and pointed out the three men. One of the three men saw the exchange and later approached Heying. "Did you tell him we're security?" Heying recalled the man saying. "You shouldn't have done that. We're here to make sure everything is peaceful."

Alameda Police Chief Paul Rolleri
said officers were not undercover.
The exchange was anything but cordial, Heying said. "It was clear he wasn't trying to be friendly," Heying said of the man. "He was trying to be intimidating."

It turns out that the three men were not security guards, nor were they renters fearful of 25-percent rent hikes, or landlords opposing rent control measures in Alameda; rather, the men were plainclothes Alameda cops, who were assigned by city officials to monitor renters.

Although it's not uncommon for uniformed police officers to attend council meetings, the decision to assign undercover cops to keep tabs on renters at the Alameda meeting was unusual. Moreover, the move was not the result of any specific threat, but was in response to concerns raised by unnamed residents about safety at the meeting, Interim City Manager Liz Warmerdam stated in an email to Heying and another member of the renters coalition. "My goal was to ensure everyone's safety without increasing the tension in the room," she wrote. "The vast majority of those present had no idea our [plainclothes] officers were there. That was my goal." Warmerdam did not respond to a request for an interview for this story...


Oakland Airport expects 500 private jets clogging East Bay skies for Super Bowl

Traffic in and around the Oakland Airport during 
Super Bowl 50 may be equal to Thanksgiving.
OAKLAND AIRPORT | For NFL teams competing for a spot in the Super Bowl, success usually comes through the air. It’s the same for some of the richest people in the world arriving, game tickets in hand, through Bay Area airports next month.

At the Oakland Airport alone, between 400 and 500 additional private jets carrying wealthy fans are expected to touchdown for Super Bowl weekend, said a representative for the airport.

In total, over 1,200 private jets are estimated to arrive in the Bay Area for the big game, the Federal Aviation Administration told airport officials. “It’s an extraordinary amount of jets,” said Matt Davis, assistant aviation director for the Oakland Airport.

Not only will the skies over the East Bay be noisy before and after the Feb. 7 championship game, but so will the roads in and around the Oakland Airport, which expects traffic comparable to a Thanksgiving holiday, said Davis.

In addition, residents in Oakland and along the bay in Alameda and San Leandro will likely hear additional jet noise over their homes. “This event will have some impact for the community in terms of the number of jets,” he said.

That’s because the Oakland Airport may facilitate all the extra airplane traffic with runways it does not typically use. “Flight patterns may be different than what people are accustomed to be seeing,” said Davis. But any changes in runway use are the Federal Aviation Administration’s call, not the airport’s, he added. The airport will mitigate some of the activity, said Davis, by utilizing runways that lead over water, instead of over the East Bay.

But, the additional airplane noise over the area and crush of traffic could be worsened by an additional set of factors, said Davis. Teams who advance to the Super Bowl which have larger national followings may bring even more airplane traffic to the area. Two such teams, the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos, fit that description.

President Barack Obama also plans to attend the game—likely arriving at a venue closer to the stadium in Santa Clara—which may put further stress on the Oakland Airport, said Davis, after additional security measures shift more airplane traffic to the East Bay.

The good news, though, is that many of these well-off football fans are expected to have their private jets fired up and ready to leave, according to Davis, beginning as early as the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Glazer talks feminine hygiene with his daughter on Twitter

STATE SENATE | 7TH DISTRICT | A bill introduced last week by Southern California Assemblymember Cristina Garcia to remove sales tax on tampons was, at first, met with skepticism from Steve Glazer, an East Bay state senator whose politics in known for its moderate flow. That is, until Glazer chose Twitter to have an intimate father-daughter conversation about feminine hygiene.
The first-year state senator representing the state senate's seventh district, however, didn't need much coaxing by his daughter. Glazer responded with the fatherly tone of an 80s sitcom dad.
Cue the happy ending.
And despite the fact Glazer just won this seat last May, the seat is up for re-election this year. Potential rival, fellow Democrat Susan Bonilla said last fall she is not running. Republicans Rodney Spooner and Joe Rubay are two early challengers for the June primary.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Endgame in Alameda: Rent Control?

The mass evictions at the Bayview Apartments
have become so infamous that its address is used
as shorthand for Alameda's rental crisis. 
ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | Before the 33 families residing at Bay View Apartments received a 60-day eviction notice in early November, the last fight at the complex occurred last spring. For the big Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather boxing match, Romel Laguardia set up his television in the center courtyard along with a fight night spread of food and beverages. “We’re family here,” he said.

But the camaraderie among longtime neighbors at 470 Central Ave. could change. In early November, building owner Sridhar Equities Inc. of San Jose issued 60-day eviction notices under a clause in the city’s Nov. 5 rent and evictions moratorium, which capped rent increases at 8 percent over 12 months. That loophole permitted evictions whenever landlords undertake significant capital improvements.

The turmoil at 470 Central embodies Alameda’s housing crisis. To renter advocates, Sridhar’s bold move undercut arguments for keeping the status quo. The city council unanimously closed the loophole on Dec. 1, but that won’t help the residents of Bay View Apartments.

At the council meeting at which the loophole was closed, Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft said the landlords she had spoken with were “horrified” by the company’s actions. Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer, a tenant who has yet to take a firm stand on how to solve the city’s housing crisis, said most local landlords treat tenants fairly, but that “we continue to have a few outliers who don’t get the message.” Councilmember Tony Daysog hinted that the council is leaning toward establishing a just cause component to a potential January rent ordinance that would prescribe specific criteria for when tenants can be evicted.

Such public attention for Alameda’s housing crisis makes some renters hopeful. Yet fear about whether they can afford to stay in Alameda permeates many conversations.

“Because of all of the stories, it makes you wonder when you’re going have a notice stuck to your door,” said tenant Kate Guidry. “I’ve lived here 13 years, and I don’t want to live anywhere else.” So far, her landlord has levied only modest rent increases, but anxiety persists. “If I get priced out of here, I’m going to have to go live with my parents, and that’s part of the problem. At 43, it shouldn’t be like that.”

Mel Potter, 66, who has rented a room on Park Street since 2001, has friends who have been priced out of town. A long positive relationship with his landlord comforts him, but “if had a different owner, I don’t know how I would feel.”

The Alameda Renters Coalition led the push for the moratorium and also stifled several appointments to the Rent Review Advisory Committee, forcing one pro-landlord member of that committee, Karin Lucas, to not seek reappointment. Lucas, incidentally, was the speaker whose comments were cut short when coalition members attempted to enter the council chambers in a November confrontation that led to the serious injury of a city staff member and the arrest of two renters, one of whom was bloodied by police. Scenes of the civil disobedience brought the coalition and its concerns much notoriety.

“We’ve shifted our focus, because we found renters in this town have no protections, and now we’re turning into more of an activist organization,” said group leader Catherine Pauling. The coalition’s intention is to bring some form of rent control to Alameda in 2016, which assuredly will face pushback from landlords. On Nov. 16, the coalition met with the city staff to offer a wish list of protections, including just-cause eviction laws covering not only apartments, but also condos and single-family homes. The coalition also articulated a desire for an elected renters’ advisory committee and suggested linking rent increases to inflation, such as 65 percent of the Consumer Price Index, and not to exceed 4 percent annually.

But few forces in Alameda are more powerful than landlords. The impetus for the Nov. 4 scuffle at City Hall was an allegation by renters that landlords, in a bit of political gamesmanship, had purposefully arrived earlier to fill the council chambers with their supporters. Perusal of the 136 speakers cards from that night confirmed that a large number were signed by those affiliated with landlords’ groups.

Landlords are already ramping up to fight rent controls. A pre-Thanksgiving telephone poll by an undetermined landlords’ group appeared to be gauging support for the 8 percent annual rent increases threshold while also measuring support for Mayor Spencer. Another phone survey reportedly began in early December.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

During her first year in office, Libby Schaaf flipped the script in Oakland

Mayor Libby Schaaf's biggest first-year
accomplishment was her ability to flip
the script in Oakland.
OAKLAND | Perhaps no event had more potential to derail Libby Schaaf’s young mayoral administration than the May 1 mayhem in which protesters swarmed Oakland Auto Row, breaking windows and setting cars ablaze.

The police response was torpid. Police Chief Sean Whent later conceded that his department was ill-prepared for the all-too predictable May Day protest, which targeted law enforcement following a nationwide epidemic of suspicious police killings of young black men and women. The spasm of vandalism destroyed hundreds of thousand of dollars in property.

Oakland businessman Erich Horat sprayed his disillusionment in big block letters on the plywood covering his auto shop’s shattered windows. “Oakland Police, you failed your city again.” Horat later replaced that message with an angrier one that seemed like it could permanently shape the reputation of Oakland’s new mayor: “Riot Tourism—Visit Oakland—Schaaf and Whent will show you which block to trash.”

Such challenges often afflicted Oakland during the four-year term of Schaaf’s predecessor, Jean Quan. But from Quan’s early mishandling of Occupy Oakland all the way to her eventual assurance that a Middle Eastern prince would help save Oakland’s Raiders, the former mayor’s demeanor, hesitation, and missteps frequently trumped the many positive things happening in Oakland. It didn’t take long for the media to start ravaging the prior mayor, and anti-Quan rhetoric quickly morphed into an all-too-familiar strain of Oakland-bashing. Quan never recovered from this avalanche of criticism, ultimately losing to Schaaf in a landslide.

Oakland’s new mayor has confronted many similar challenges. But over the past year, Schaaf has demonstrated an ability to frame Oakland’s narrative on her own terms. Her navigation is usually deft, but she has shown that she can change course when necessary. Grave issues still confront Oakland—some more seriously than a year ago. Yet Schaaf has made a good show of grappling with The Town’s historic challenges, and evidence of action—if not yet actual accomplishment—is about the best that one can hope for during any new mayor’s first year in office.

After the presidency, being a big city mayor is perhaps the second-toughest job in American politics. Mayoral candidates run on their own agenda, but they must govern based on the agenda of their constituents. As a candidate, Schaaf promised a larger police force; as a mayor she has encountered a nationwide backlash against the police, which has been exacerbated by seven officer-involved shootings in Oakland in recent months. As a candidate, she promised to usher in a wave of dense new residential construction; as a mayor, she has seen the housing affordability crisis spawn hostility to such development as the supposed agent of gentrification. As a candidate, she pledged to offer reasoned, disciplined governance; as mayor she has had to concede that the city’s initial reaction to the Black Lives Matter protests was halting, often ineffective, and hella expensive. And as a candidate, the effervescent Schaaf led cheers for Oakland; but as mayor she has been forced to weigh in on evictions, senseless slayings, budgetary shortfalls, police shootings, and the distinct possibility that all three of Oakland’s pro sports teams might leave town on her watch. Such is the life of a big-city mayor.

While Schaaf’s first year in office was not error-free, the mayor is stronger on her anniversary than she was one year ago. Crime is down, investment is up, downtown is alive, construction is about to boom, and most Oaklanders feel better about the city than they did one year ago. And the surprisingly resilient mayor has emerged with her priorities and her buoyant optimism intact. Not that the old Oakland storyline doesn’t still pop up from time to time: The city is crime-ridden, its police are corrupt, its schools are wretched, its bureaucracy is inept, and the city council’s circus act just illustrates Oakland’s inability to evolve. Still, on the balance, the East Bay’s largest city hasn’t had a better reputation in generations. Not surprisingly, a recent Oakland Chamber of Commerce poll found that Schaaf had a 68 percent approval rating among registered voters.

For these and other reasons, we’re naming Libby Schaaf Oakland and Alameda magazine’s inaugural Person of the Year. Schaaf is adapting to some of the notable changes that have occurred in Oakland even since her election, and yet she displays a courageous willingness to push her priorities and the apparent ability to bring them to life. Perhaps no East Bay citizen unaffiliated with the Golden State Warriors has dominated the news more than Schaaf, and no one else presided over more feel-good moments.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Report: Raiders told NFL that Oakland, Alameda County officials lied to them

Raiders ownership reportedly told NFL execs
that East Bay officials reneged on promises. 
OAKLAND | With the hopes of Raiders ownership flagging over the possibility NFL owners will approve their relocation bid to Los Angeles this week comes a report the team recently made disparaging comments toward Oakland and Alameda County officials during talks with league executives and owners.

The Raiders contend elected officials in the East Bay “intentionally stalled in negotiations, admitted to acting in bad faith, making false promises and lying,” the Orange County Register reported Monday afternoon.

The team also told NFL officials that Oakland is not a viable market and the O.co Coliseum is the worst facility in the league, according to the article.

This week, NFL owners are scheduled to possibly approve two or more franchises for relocation to proposed stadiums in Inglewood or Carson in Los Angeles County. In recent days, various reports suggest the Raiders may be on the outside looking in when it comes to relocation in favor of bids by the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers.

Another report on Monday, suggested the Raiders will turn their attention to San Antonio for a new home if they are not approved for a return to Los Angeles.

While the Raiders argument to NFL owners is likely intent on discrediting their current home to curry support for relocation, the impetus for at least one criticism—allegations East Bay officials made false promises—appears to be a reference to former Oakland mayor Jean Quan’s offer to the team of free land at the current coliseum complex.

The article references a proposal by officials to contribute 170 acres to the project. Last week, current Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf reiterated an offer to pay for infrastructure costs and at least 60 acres of the southern portion of the coliseum complex for a new privately-financed football stadium.

The reported offer by Quan, a vestigial tail remaining from her ill-fated 2014 re-election campaign, would likely be an illegal gift of public lands.

Swalwell SOTU guest is a gun reformer, but also advocate of police surveillance

Rep. Swalwell says his guest to Tuesday's State of the 
Union is a community leader in reducing gun violence.
As Rep. Eric Swalwell’s guest to Tuesday’s State of the Union, Fremont Police Chief Richard Lucero is described as a regional leader in reducing gun violence. However, Lucero is also one of the most fervent backers of government surveillance in the East Bay. And one of the few in an area adverse to such intrusion in their lives to have successfully implemented their plan.

Since becoming Fremont’s permanent police chief in 2013, Lucero has successfully pushed for up to 10 surveillance cameras positioned around the city’s freeway entrance and exit points. But, even with Fremont’s somewhat pliant and conservative city council, it took some time to find the proper funding for the cameras.

Fremont Police Chief Richard Lucero
When it was first introduced, a city staff report admitted the proposed use of the cameras was to monitor Fremont’s "low-to-moderate" neighborhoods by tracking vehicles containing individuals suspected to be committing crimes. At the time, the police department’s wish list was for up to 20 surveillance cameras in a city with a relatively low crime rate.

Lucero even told the council the cameras do little to deter crime, yet he continued to back the proposal and advocated for the dubious repurposing of Federal Housing Authority funding to pay for the high-definition cameras. The Fremont City Council, although continually supportive of surveillance cameras in their city, balked at the use of federal dollars set aside for housing the poor.

A year later, the item returned again to strong support from the council. Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison remarked on surveillance cameras in the city, “We’re going to watch you. We’re going find you. We’re going to catch you.”

But, the cameras were not approved until last July with funding from the city’s Capital Improvement Program. Lucero told the council the police department intends to share information from the surveillance cameras with the statewide data hub known as the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC).

In a statement Friday, Swalwell instead focused on Lucero’s citywide gun buyback program in keeping Fremont safe. The President’s annual address is expected to strongly focus on the nagging prevalence of gun violence in America. Swalwell lauded Lucero as a police chief who “has taken steps to promote positive relations between the department and community.”

Although Swalwell's record on social issues appears to be progressive, his support for law enforcement in the past has led many to label his politics in a moderate light, which is not incongruent with his bifurcated congressional district that is more liberal in the west and more conservative in the Tri Valley.

Swalwell's record on surveillance is more problematic for privacy advocates. In the past, he has given conflicting comments on issues related to all types of surveillance, including an uneven record on government tracking of cellphone data and web histories, in addition, to drones proposed for use by the Alameda County Sheriff's Department.