Monday, February 29, 2016

Honda on Obama's no endorsement: So you're saying there's still a chance?

In better times: President Obama and Rep.
Mike Honda in early 2013.
CONGRESS | CA17 | Rep. Mike Honda still thinks there is a chance President Obama will endorse his re-election campaign this year against Ro Khanna.

Over the weekend, it was reported the president would not be making an endorsement in the rematch between two Democrats. In their previous race, Obama endorsed Honda unusually early in the contest—a full 16 months before the June 2014 primary, which Honda won.

But, Honda isn’t take no for an answer this time around.

Following the results of Saturday night’s endorsement of his campaign by the statewide Democratic Party, Honda said he plans to give the president a phone call in a few weeks to discuss the matter.

“I think the allegation was that I was rejected—that I had lost his endorsement because he endorsed me last time and he’s taking his time,” said Honda. “He’s got things on his mind.”

When asked what the president’s backing means in the race, Honda responded, wryly, “I would like to have it. So would my opponent.”

Some of the speculation around Obama’s withdrawal of his endorsement has surrounded uncertainty over Honda’s pending House ethics investigation. Some local Democratic Party insiders, however, believe the snub is retaliation for Honda opposing the president’s Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, reviled by labor unions.

Adding fuel to the belief TPP is the real reason for Obama’s removing his support, many note, is Honda, a strong defender of labor unions, only last month offered official opposition to the trade bill. Khanna also opposes TPP.

On Saturday night, Honda also deflected accusations by Khanna that the party’s endorsement process is rigged toward incumbents, which in many cases, have appointed most of the voting delegates.
During his remarks, Khanna predicted he would lose the endorsement vote, which he did, 48-7, with 2 no endorsements.

“He didn’t say that when the clubs voted. I didn’t challenge him on that,” said Honda, referring to a number of once loyal South Bay Democratic clubs that had voted recently to issue no endorsement in the race.

Then there's that mysterious hit piece that was placed on seats in the caucus area before Saturday's endorsement vote at the California Democratic Convention. No group has taken credit for the piece depicting Khanna as a puppet of the Republican Party. And Honda and his campaign strongly denied involvement.

Meanwhile, Khanna's campaign is suing the indident to its advantage. A fundraising email highlighting the anti-Khanna flier was sent Tuesday morning to supporters.

Alameda group seeks to place rent control measure on November ballot

Alameda renters protesting rising rents at a
rally in front of City Hall last year.
ALAMEDA | A day before the Alameda City Council is set to finalize approval for a modest set of new protections for struggling renters, a local grassroots organization will present a ballot measure Monday asking voters for stronger controls on rising rents.

"We are filing this initiative so the people of Alameda can do what its City Council has been unable to do: enact a firm set of laws to stabilize our community and protect renters from greedy investors," said Catherine Pauling, spokesperson for the Alameda Renters Coalitions.

The group will hold a press conference to discuss the measure Monday afternoon in front of City Hall at 3:30 p.m. The measure likely includes tying annual rent increases to the Consumer Price Index.

If supports can gather nearly 4,000 signatures over the next few months, the measure will be placed on the November ballot, proponents said.

Renters came away disappointed following the City Council’s initial passage of a rent ordinance Feb. 16 that requires landlords to submit rent increases over five percent to the city’s rent review process and compensation for moving costs upon eviction.

The ordinance, which will have a second and final reading Tuesday night, though, contains no cap on rent increases or restrictions on no cause evictions, two issues routinely raised by the renters group.

If the rent control measure is successful in getting on the November ballot, it will join nearby Richmond, which, like Alameda, will likely face a highly contentious campaign for rent control in that East Bay city.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

CADEM NOTEBOOK: AD16 Dem Cook-Kallio gets a shout out from assembly speaker-elect

AD16 | Cheryl Cook-Kallio, the Democrat tasked with winning back the only red assembly district in the Bay Area, received some attention from Assembly speaker-elect Anthony Rendon.

During his remarks before the California Democratic Party Convention’s general session Saturday, Rendon included Cook-Kallio, a former Pleasanton council member, in his list of importatnt races for Democrats to focus on in 2016.

However, pulling back the 16th Assembly District seat away from Republican Catharine Baker will be difficult. Within her first term, Baker has already amassed an incumbent’s war chest in excess of $500,000, while Cook-Kallio had yet to begin fundraising before the end of last year.

AD16 candidate Cheryl Cook-Kallio
And don’t forget, this is the seat that broke all kinds of records for independent expenditure spending in 2014 and potential for another is high.

Cook-Kallio told the East Bay Citizen that Rendon has promised to elevate further the party's attention toward her race after the June primary. Thus far, Cook-Kallio is Baker's only known challenger, making a November rematch likely.

CASEN | Sanchez is not the belle of the ball
Judging by the response, labor Democrats are not enthused by Rep. Loretta Sanchez’s bid for retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer’s seat. While addressing the labor caucus Saturday night, Sanchez received tepid applause upon her introduction and throughout her remarks.

At one point, after Sanchez offered her union credentials, along with a 97 percent congressional voting record for labor, she was heckled by one audience member.

It was quite clear Sanchez was the not the belle of the ball over the weekend. In the labor caucus event and at the much larger general session audience, it was clear Democrats are much more enthused by the candidacy of state Attorney General Kamala Harris.

But, that's not to say Sanchez appeal among Latinos can be overlooked, especially with the tenor Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is creating among the growing demographic. It's no wonder Sanchez repeatedly focusing on immigration in her stump speeches. "It is a morally imperative to pass comprehensive immigration reform," said Sanchez. "We cannot wait any longer.”

SEEN | Swanson gets down on the dance floor
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf on the convention
floor Saturday afternoon.
Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk was a big caucus goer. Saw him in the front row at both the senior and labor caucus…Former state senate majority leader Ellen Corbett was seen chatting with embattled Sacramneto Democratic Rep. Ami Bera. Corbett is currently serving on the state Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board…

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is attending the convention as an observer, albeit, with an VIP pass…Politico also reported seeing Schaaf and her former mayoral rival Jean Quan "elbow-to-elbow"…My spies tell me SD9 candidate Sandre Swanson was cutting a rug at a party Saturday night. Swanson, whose mobility is limited, was boogieing with the aid of his seat's backrest...

Fremont state Sen. Bob Wieckowski was referred to by state Senate Pro Tem Kevin De Leon as his "favorite Polish-American state senator."...Contra Costa County state Sen. Steve Glazer was seen often inside the main hall of the convention Saturday afternoon. However, nobody ever seemed to have been talking to him.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Honda wins Dems endorsement; mysterious anti-Khanna flyer emerges

Rep. Mike Honda won the Democratic Party
endorsement Saturday night.
CADEM16 | CA17 | Rep. Mike Honda won the endorsement of the California Democratic Party with a clear majority of delegates at its conventioon Saturday night but not without controversy—an anti-Ro Khanna hit piece awaiting visitors to the caucus.

Those attending the endorsing caucus for the 17th Congressional District found a well-produced and likely expensive campaign flyer resting on each seat that accused Honda’s challenger, Democrat Ro Khanna, as being funded by Republican donors.

In addition, the identity of the group or groups that paid for the flyer is not listed on the piece. A union bug, however, is shown on the back of the piece. But, according to the Federal Elections Commission rules, the flyer may not be illegal.

Political committees are not required to disclose expenditures of less than $5,000. Based on the small batch of fliers seen at Saturday’s caucus, the printing costs could well be under the federal reporting threshold.

A mystery flyer portraying Ro Khanna as a 
puppet of the Republican Party was found 
on seats in the caucus room. 
The tri-fold flyer features Khanna portrayed as a puppet along with five circles cut out for the handler to place their fingers through. The headshots of Republicans of Ted Cruz, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin and Marco Rubio are also included. “Ro’s Republican donors are paying for a puppet. Now you can pull his strings too,” said the piece.

Honda said he has never seen the flier before tonight and denied anybody from his campaign had distributed them. “We don’t know who put it out there. A lot of people can put it out there, right?” Honda said, following the caucus. “I didn’t have nothing to do with it and no one took claim of it, either.”

Michael Beckendorf, Honda’s campaign manager, also says he had never seen the flyer before the beginning of Saturday's caucus. “Nobody from our staff produced that flier or handed it out,” he said.

Khanna slammed the presence of the hit piece during his opening remarks. “I come here and we’ve got this puppet on every seat, not having ‘paid for’ on it. I have a lot of respect for the congressman’s past service, but rules and laws matter,” said Khanna. “And when a campaign is being investigated for ethics issues you don’t hand out literature which doesn’t have ‘paid for’ on it.”

Somewhat overshadowed by the mysterious flier was Honda's impressive victory Saturday night. Honda beat Khanna, 46-7, with two delegates voting for no endorsement. Under party rules, as the incumbent, Honda needed only 50 percent of the vote for victory.

With the endorsement phase of the 2016 congressional rematch in the rearview mirror, speculation over who is behind the offending literature and related rhetoric is likely to headline the next few weeks of this primary race.

Friday, February 26, 2016

CADEM16 NOTEBOOK: SD9 candidate Nancy Skinner sings!

SD9 | Nancy Skinner is apparently a very accomplished singer. Walking across the concourse at the San Jose Convention Center Friday afternoon, the Ninth State Senate District candidate broke into song.

In fact, Skinner cut her own record in the early 1980s, including a tracked titled, “Can You See A City.” Without warming up, Skinner’s pitch was impeccable and she even punctuated one portion of the tune with a short drum solo.
SIGHTS & SOUNDS | Airbnb flexing its growing legislative muscle
A menagerie of special interests and candidates have their own booths ringing around the San Jose Convention Center. Sen. Bernie Sanders have one. Marijuana legalization has one. Notably, Airbnb has booth here and they, indeed, stick out. But their presence shows the room-renting app is continuing to make a big push in the world of Sacramento lobbying.

SAN LEANDRO | The push for $15 an hour in San Leandro
As always, income inequality is a big issue at any state convention and a large part of the push came from the San Francisco and the East Bay. It could be soon coming to San Leandro Councilmember Jim Prola can gather enough votes on the city council. In San Jose as a state delegate Prola says he been pushing for raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

There is some consensus among his colleagues for raising the base wage of residents, he says, but opposition is coalescing against tying the increase in future years to the Consumer Price Index. San Leandro’s minimum wage is currently based on the state’s $10 an hour rate and its living wage—the rate its pays workers contracted by the city—is around $14.80 an hour.

The minimum wage issue in San Leandro, however, is not ready for the full council to vet and will again be discussed at a City Council finance meeting in early March.

Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk addressing members of the Senior Caucus Friday afternoon at the California State Convention in San Jose.

CADEM NOTEBOOK: Obama slights Mike Honda; won't endorse in CA17

CADEM16 | CA17 | President Obama is quietly distancing himself from Rep. Mike Honda, or at least, deciding to not take sides in the incumbent's rematch against  fellow Dem Ro Khanna.

Politico reported Thursday that Obama is not renewing his endorsement of Honda. No reason was given for the president staying neutral in the Dem-on-Dem primary clash likely to be reprised in the fall.

In the 2014 congressional race, Honda immediately trumpeted Obama's endorsement against Khanna and his growing campaign war chest. In fact, Honda made the announcement a full 16 months before the June 2014 primary.

The tenor of the endorsement so early in the campaign struck some as desperation and a clue Honda's campaign feared the threat by Khanna, a former Obama appointee to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Honda defeated Khanna by just under four points in November 2014.

This time around, Honda will be on his own and feeling may becoming too familiar in recent months. The loss of Obama's support matches a distinct narrative seen at the grassroots level in and around Silicon Valley. Numerous local Democratic clubs once viewed as Honda strongholds have issued a round of no endorsements in recently.

A similar sense of uncertainty over Honda and his pending House ethics investigation led to his inability to register enough support by Alameda County Democrats to win the party's backing at the pre-endorsement meeting on Jan. 30. Now, Honda is forced to wrap up the endorsement at this week's convention.

CA17 | Honda poised for winning state endorsement Saturday
Rep. Mike Honda fell just two votes shy of gaining the 70 percent of voters needed to win the party's endorsement last month. Now, he has to continue the fight at this weekend's convention.

"We're very optimistic," said Vedant Patel, political director for the Honda campaign. "The numbers are in our favor."

The state party has always endorsed Honda and this year will be no different, he added, despite a clear narrative put out by the Khanna campaign that the grassroots are pulling away from the incumbent Honda.

However, don't expect much drama from Saturday's vote. As opposed to the pre-endorsement round, Honda, as an incumbent, needs only 50 percent of the vote. Khanna, meanwhile, needs 60 percent.

Honda and Khanna will address delegates on Saturday during an endorsement vote scheduled to begin at 5:45 p.m. Watch the livestream of the meeting here at EBCitizen.com and on the @eastbaycitizen Twitter feed.

CADEM16: Speaker Atkins: Tax credit for poor is a 'Win, win, win'

State Controller Betty Yee, center, along with Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, far left, getting the word out about the state's new Earned Income Tax Credit that could help 1.5 million low-earning Californians. 
Speaker Atkins, Controller Yee and Joseph
Sanberg of CalEITC4Me.
CADEM16 | The California Democratic Party kicked off its convention this weekend with an eye on the economically weakest among us.

For the first time an Earned Income Tax Credit is available for those earning below $13,870 a year and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins wants those to know thousands of dollars could be available for up to 1.5 million people in the state.

“I believe this is about values and values say, expand in a way that says no person who works 40 hours a week should live in poverty and I know what that means,” said Atkins.

Between the federal earned income credits available to taxpayers, the addition of the state’s version could be an extra $8,500 in the pockets of wage earners struggling to make ends meet, said Atkins.

However, getting out the word is paramount, said Atkins, after $380 million in funding for the earned income credit was included in last year’s May budget revise.

More than 116,000 residents have already been paid claims by the state, said Controller Betty Yee, whose signature adorns each check.

And because low-wage earners typically use the additional cash for goods and services instead of saving it, small businesses and the community also benefit, said Atkins. “This is money that goes right back into the streets,” she said. “This is a win, win, win.”

Thursday, February 25, 2016

South Bay Assemblymember proposes an end to daylight savings time

The time is right for California to get rid of
daylight savings time, says Assmeblymember
Kansen Chu.
ASSEMBLY | 25TH DISTRICT | South Bay Assemblymember Kansen Chu wants to rid the phrase "spring forward and fall back" from the lexicon of Californians.

The freshman assemblyman who represents parts of San Jose and Fremont in the East Bay introduced legislation last week (AB 2496) that would end the biannual ritual of changing clock one hour forward in the early March and one hour back in November.

Chu said his constituents, mainly older voters, have lobbied him to make the change that, if passed, would join Hawaii and Arizona as the only other states to eschew daylight savings time.

“I heard some complaints last year from some of the senior citizens (in my district) and their care providers who say this one-hour difference really impacted their lives,” Chu told the Sacramento Bee.

Voters approved daylight savings time in 1949. But Chu admits bringing the proposal into law could be difficult, despite encouraging polling, he told the paper. “This could be a very controversial one."

San Leandro’s top cop is leaving for Beverly Hills

San Leandro Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli's 
last day on duty is Mar. 13.
SAN LEANDRO | San Leandro Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli is leaving for the cement ponds of Beverly Hills, the city announced Thursday. Spagnoli has served as police chief since January 2011. Her last day on duty is Mar. 13.

"I will miss the people the most, including my fellow City employees, community members, elected officials and other colleagues throughout Alameda County," said Spagnoli. "During my tenure, our organization has enhanced service delivery in San Leandro while developing effective partnerships that have incorporated community input into policy development, hiring, promotions and departmental operations. I am proud of the ongoing work SLPD continues to do to keep San Leandro a safe and thriving community."

Spagnoli took over a police department five years ago that is best described as rooted in San Leandro’s past old boy network and divided after a lawsuit by a black police officer alleged wrongdoing in its practice of promoting blacks. Several female police officers alleged sexual harassment by the same black officer and also alleged discrimination by the force due to the lack of women promoted to higher positions.

In subsequent years, Spagnoli was credited with improving the racial and gender makeup of the force and education level of new officers.. Quickly, government meetings that once featured San Leandro police officers merely addressing the city council included police captains and lieutenants describing elaborate PowerPoint presentations and videos.

However, unlike another noted East Bay police chief—Richmond’s Chris Magnus—who recently departed for Tucson, Ariz. and was known for his progressive innovations in law enforcement—Spagnoli’s tenure in San Leandro was less so. Like most police chiefs, Spagnoli initially opposed medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, citing often debunked rises in crime. She later came around to tacitly favoring the dispensaries, which are set to open sometime this year. Spagnoli also favored the purchase of an armored medical vehicle that drew strong opposition from the community.

Following Spagnoli’s departure, Capt. Jeff Tudor has been selected to serve as interim chief, said City Manager Chris Zapata. A San Leandro native, Tudor rose through the ranks of the San Leandro Police Department over the past 21 years.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Rival Silicon Valley congressional candidates support Apple in iPhone case

Ro Khanna and Rep. Mike Honda
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | The top contenders hoping to represent Silicon Valley in Congress both say they support Apple's opposition to a court order directing them to help unlock the iPhones of the San Bernardino shooters.

Democratic Rep. Mike Honda and his challenger, fellow Democrat Ro Khanna, said the F.B.I. is wrong in forceing Apple to create a backdoor into its popular iPhone because doing so could put others privacy at risk. Apple is headquartered in Cupertino, which is represented in the 17th Congressional District.

Critics of Apple's opposition to complying with the federal order to unlock its smartphones say the company is impeding the investigation of the two San Bernardino shooters labeled as terrorists. In addition, some of the same voices say Apple is making the country less safe from another attack.

"It is disturbing that the United States government is demanding Apple take an unprecedented step to violate the privacy and security of its customers," said Honda. "Without any question, this violates the privacy of iPhone users, and exposes their personal information to dangerous hackers and criminals.

While opposing the federal court decision, Honda framed the matter in stark historical tones, including the blacklisting during the Red Scare of the 1950s and his own internment as a young child during World War II. "These are black marks in our history and we cannot let the voices of fear win again," said Honda. "No matter how afraid we may become of our enemy--and I have no sympathy for terrorists who wish to harm Americans--we must adhere to the principles this country was founded on."

Khanna, who has staked both of his candidacies for the congressional district on his strong ties to Silicon Valley's biggest and most influential tech companies, called the court's ruling "government overreach."

"If Apple is compelled to do this, then they may put all their customers at risk because any unlocking software could get hacked or fall into the wrong hands," said Khanna. "Apple's customers could be victims of cybercrime, identity theft, or stalking. The FBI should not be requiring tech companies to build back doors to encryption technology that compromises our privacy and puts users at risk."

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Nancy Skinner attracts pivotal support from former opponent Wilma Chan

Wilma Chan, center, dropped out of the SD9 race
last October. Now she's endorsing Nancy Skinner.
Nancy Skinner’s bid for the East Bay’s Ninth State Senate District has attracted the support of a pivotal former candidate.

The campaign announced on Tuesday the endorsement of Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, who dropped out of the race in October citing, for one reason, her inability to compete with Skinner’s growing and overwhelming fundraising advantage.

“We need a strong partner to join us in the fight against income inequality, poverty and the lack of affordable housing,” said Chan. “It takes more than a good vote, it takes a commitment to activism and engagement. That’s why I am endorsing Nancy Skinner for State Senate.”

The endorsement by Chan, who was once viewed as an equally strong progressive candidate along with Skinner and Sandre Swanson before exiting the race, could prove pivotal in the campaign to win Asian American voters. Chan is also an Alameda resident and has represented the city as an assemblymember and county supervisor. Skinner called Chan’s support “hugely important,” in a statement.

Chan’s supervisorial district also includes a chunk of Oakland containing Chinatown, which could be valuable demographic real estate for each campaign to attract Asian American voters.

While Skinner’s stronghold is undoubtedly Berkeley where she is a well-known elected official, most believe Oakland is Swanson’s to lose, as is Alameda. In addition to Chan’s endorsement Tuesday, there have been signs Skinner is aiming to chip away at Swanson’s hold over the island.

Two weeks ago, the Alameda Democratic Club easily endorsed Skinner. When the results were announced at the end of the meeting, Swanson appeared clearly crestfallen by the news.

Confluence of Howard Terminal ballpark backers at Clinton's Piedmont fundraiser

A rendering of the 38,000-seat Howard Terminal 
ballpark in Oakland, just north of Jack London Sq.
HOWARD TERMINAL | Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton visited the tony East Bay enclave of Piedmont this weekend for a fundraiser at the home of developer Michael Ghielmetti.

Around 250 donors attended the event, including Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta and retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer who introduced Clinton to guests. Bonta also campaigned for Clinton last week in Nevada in advance of their Democratic caucus.

But, exclude Clinton from the equation, and the soiree had most of the players involved for the push to entice the Oakland Athletics to build a new downtown ballpark at Howard Terminal, just north of Jack London Square.

Ghielmetti, who is behind the $1.5 billion Brooklyn Basin development on Oakland’s Embarcadero, is also part Oakland Waterfront Ballpark LLC, a group trying to lure the A’s from the current Coliseum site to Howard Terminal. Doug Boxer, the son of Sen. Barbara Boxer, is also part of the same group.

Bonta’s connection to Howard Terminal is less known. Around the time Ghielmetti’s team was attempting to secure an exclusive negotiating agreement with the Port of Oakland, owners of the 50 acre property, Bonta’s office was in the early stages of drafting legislation hoping to bring state funding for infrastructure improvements that would connect the stadium to downtown.

But the Howard Terminal proposal lost steam and no bill was ultimately offered in the Assembly. However, Howard Terminal has only returned to the conversation as a possibility in recent months following a report A’s ownership is studying the feasibility of the site along with three others in the city. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has long been a supporter of moving the club to the downtown area, as was former Mayor Jean Quan.

Meanwhile, there is no word whether Clinton supports a new ballpark for the A’s in Oakland. But rest assured nobody from the team’s ownership team is a Clinton donor. A’s lead owner John Fisher is an avowed conservative who contributes to many Republican candidates and right wing causes.

SD9: Democrat Katherine Welch wants to make the East Bay great again

SD9 Democratic candidate Katherine Welch
If you were wondering how long it would take for elements of Donald Trump's brash anti-government campaign strategy to trickle down to the local level, take a look at the least known Democrat in the East Bay's Ninth State Senate District race.

Earlier indications are Katherine Welch's bid to wedge her campaign into the November general election at the expense of her more seasoned fellow Democrats in the race--Sandre Swanson and Nancy Skinner--includes taking a page out of Trump's presidential playbook of anti-government rhetoric, albeit sans the billowing bravado.

Taking a cue from the phrase that famously adorns Trump's red caps, much of Welch's earlier rhetoric can be described as "Make the East Bay Great Again."

During an appearance along with Swanson and Skinner in Oakland last month, Welch said leaders in Sacramento are doing little to help their constituents.

"We are neglecting our community and I can't take it anymore. I've never run for anything in my life, but I realize now that it's time to take a stand and stand up for what most of the people in community believe in, which is when you take care of our kids, when we take of our working families, when we take care of the least fortunate among us, everything rises and I don't think we're doing that.

"We're not doing it for affordable housing, we're not doing it for infrastructure, we're not doing it for transportation. We're not planning for anything and so we're picking up the pieces of the community that we don't take care of."

The notion state leaders are neglecting to prepare for the future, elicited an exaggerated raised eyebrow from Skinner.

Perhaps a bit more Trump-like, Welch's campaign manager, acting as a stand-in for the candidate at the Alameda Democratic Club, said poor education is allowing the country to fall behind the rest of the world. Later, he added, "Your government doesn't care about you." He also asserted the state no longer invents anything any more. Again, the comment forced a reaction from Skinner, who quietly shook her head in disagreement.

A focus on improving education is not surprising from the first-time candidate. Welch, sat on the board of the education reform movement known as Educate Our State. In addition, she is the daughter of former General Electric chairman Jack Welch. The familial connection has many wondering whether Welch can tap into deep pockets to fund her campaign.

Initial campaign finance reports, indeed, showed a strong year-end showing by Welch's campaign. Although far less than Skinner's nearly $1.1 million cash reserves, Welch actually began the year with $108,000 cash on hand, which is more than Swanson's $100,000 war chest.

Swanson uses past loss of chairmanship to highlight his progressive cred

Sandre Swanson and Nancy Skinner agree on most
issues, but he's hoping East Bay Democrats find him
more principled in his approach.
In 2009, Sandre Swanson, then an assemblymember representing Oakland and Alameda, bucked his party's push to pass a heavily negotiated spending measure to close a staggering $41 billion budget deficit. Then-Assembly Speaker Karen Bass proceeded to levy the harshest punishment possible--she stripped Swanson of his committee chairmanship.

Fast forward nearly seven years and Swanson is hoping to use the incident to his advantage.

Transforming a perceived weakness into a strength has long been a hallmark of political campaign strategy. In his campaign against fellow East Bay Democrat Nancy Skinner, also a former assemblymember, Swanson is hoping the final result pivots on his past insubordination.

The 2009 budget package was particularly brutal to the poor. A portion of the package included a hourly cap on wages for in-home care workers and limited assistance payments to the seniors, the poor and disabled, both issues that still persist today. It also included the groundwork for putting the state's so-called "jungle primary" on the ballot later that year. The new open primary was eventually approved by voters and will likely foster an intraparty clash in this race come November.

Following the punitive action against Swanson, he remained defiant, even widely disseminating articles about his dismissal. “To ask members not to protest these cuts—it’s a violation of my principles when I know workers are there to serve the elderly, catch a person when they fall,” Swanson told the Oakland Tribune, at the time. “Particularly at a time when this budget had $1 billion in tax breaks for corporations.”

The loss of Swanson's chairmanship nearly seven years ago is now the linchpin of his argument to East Bay progressives for highlighting the difference between him and his opponent, former Assemblymember Nancy Skinner.

At numerous events in recent weeks, Swanson has used the chairmanship incident as evidence of his unwavering progressive principles. “I would do it again because we need that kind of courage going forward,” Swanson said two weeks ago at an endorsement meeting in Alameda. He issued a nearly identical stump speech to Alameda County Democrats two weeks prior.

During the early campaign season, Swanson has often attempted to draw differences between he and Skinner in a campaign where a vast majority of the issues they wholeheartedly agree. Swanson often highlights his previous opposition to the dissolution of redevelopment agencies that many believe has made it far more difficult for cities to do among other things, build additional affordable housing.

He has also taken shots at the open primary election system that he opposed during the same 2009 budget deal. On this issue, Swanson's fears of two strong Democrats having to wage a battle for the same seat has come to fruition. Most observers expect Swanson and Skinner to advance from to the June primary to a hard-fought and expensive general election campaign in November.

However, in the early going of this high-profile state Senate race, there are signs Swanson's declaration of ideological purity could succeed in contrast to Skinner's description of herself as a pragmatic progressive leader during her time in the Assembly. Skinner often describes herself as an "operational progressive," meaning she is more willing to broker compromises in order to achieve her overreaching goals.

Skinner building her strategy around pragmatism has allowed Swanson at recent events to use her record against her, while portraying himself as selfless when standing up for the district's values. “I was representing this district in a way that didn’t offer any compromises on things that were important to the constituency," Swanson said of his time in the Assembly. "I think my candidacy offers more of the same of that.”

For Swanson, getting that message to voters will be difficult in light of Skinner's access to nearly $1.1 million in campaign cash and her ability to inundate the area in media buys and direct-mail pieces. Swanson, meanwhile, reported just over $100,000 in reserves to start the year. But, since labor unions are primarily backing Swanson, expect a deluge of independent expenditures to make up the large difference between campaign coffers.

Monday, February 15, 2016

LISTEN: East Bay Citizen Podcast with Berkeley Councilman Jesse Arreguin

Berkeley Councilmember Jesse Arreguin
EPISODE 18 | The East Bay Citizen Podcast heads to one of this year's political hotspots--Berkeley--where Councilmember Jesse Arreguin is running for the city's open mayoral seat.

Like almost every Bay Area city, the lack of affordable housing, is a big problem. Arreguin describes his ideas for filling the gap and his campaign pledge to innovate Berkeley government.

There's also the problem of Berkeley's slow slide from being a nationally known icon of progressive thought. He says he wants to take back the mantle from local cities like Richmond and Oakland, along with other western cities, like Portland and Seattle.

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

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Barbara Lee has not endorsed Clinton or Sanders, despite Black Caucus pick

Rep. Barbara Lee
Rep. Barbara Lee, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said she has not offered support for any Democratic presidential candidate, despite the announcement Thursday that its Political Action Committee is supporting Hillary Clinton.

During an interview Thursday with Democracy Now!, Lee said there is a distinction between members of the Congressional Black Caucus and its PAC, which made the endorsement for Clinton over the more progressive Bernie Sanders.


"There's a clear firewall. there's a clear distinction," said Lee, who is not a member of the PAC, she said, and had no input in its selection.

"I have not endorsed in the campaign. I think what is important is that the issues be addressed. I think it's important both candidates answer these questions in a forthright manner," said Lee.

Getting out the vote and blocking a Republican from becoming president is her highest priority, she added.

Before the 2008 presidential primaries, Lee offered an early endorsement of Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton.

Raiders agree to 1-year Coliseum lease extension with options

Raiders will stay at the Coliseum for the 2016 
season and possible the next two years.
COLISEUM | The Oakland Raiders are staying put for the 2016 season and possibly the next two years. The team and Coliseum Joint Powers Authority announced a one-year lease Thursday allowing the Raiders to play at the O.co Coliseum this fall, in addition, to options for the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The proposal must be first approved by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and Oakland City Council, said Oakland Councilmember and JPA member Larry Reid.

With the Raiders edged out of the running for two NFL teams to move to Los Angeles last month, member of the JPA and Raider co-owner Mark Davis expressed renewed hope that a new football stadium can be financed and built in Oakland.

However, Davis was also critical of his Coliseum neighbors, the Oakland Athletics, who are also searching for a new home in the city. Building two stadiums at the current 120 acres Coliseum site has been previously raised as  possibility.

But, Davis urged, "If the A's want to stay at the Coliseum site, they need to commit ASAP." He added, lead time is needed for designing the stadiums, along with a plan for both franchises following demolition of the current Coliseum.

But, Thursday's press conference was primary a moment for officials to celebrate the team's short-term future in Oakland.

"Today is like giving birth to a new baby," said an ebullient Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty. Later, in reference to stadium negotiations, Haggerty declared "We're going to get this right."

Davis added the proposed lease is good for all parties. "It's a win-win situation and we'll look forward to the future," he said.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Is Swalwell's endorsement up for grabs in Alameda County supervisors race?

Rep. Eric Swalwell
ALCO BOARD | DISTRICT 4 | Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley was not happy last week when proponents of giving unincorporated Castro Valley more self-governance through an elected advisory board trotted out the endorsements of Rep. Eric Swalwell and state Sen. Bob Wieckowski.

“I resent the fact that we have a congressman and a state senator that’s weighing-in on a local matter without even consulting with my office around that,” said Miley. “It’s purely local. It has nothing to do with state significance and nor does it have anything to do with national significance and I want the congressman and the state senator to know that.”

The board, known as the Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Committee, has its members appointed solely by Miley, which has caused consternation to some Castro Valley residents who want greater local control, possibly leading one day to incorporation. However, the proposal was met with some resistance and was later tabled last week by the Board of Supervisors, but not before Miley admonished the local state and federal leaders for interceding.

However, the outburst is far more significant than it appears, especially with Miley facing a tough re-election campaign this spring against the well-financed Bryan Parker. That’s because the endorsement from Swalwell and possibly Wieckowski could be in play.

The main reason is Parker’s campaign consultant, Lisa Tucker, also ran previous campaigns for Swalwell against Stark in 2012; and Wieckowski in a mud-slinging extravaganza against Mary Hayashi in 2014.

The possibility of Swalwell delivering a high-profile boost to Parker’s bid to unseat the long-time county supervisor would strengthen the challenger's chances in Pleasanton, where Swalwell is increasingly popular. It's also a portion of the district where Miley is not well-known after redistricting in 2011 cobbled the city with East Oakland and Castro Valley

Parker also appears to have been building the groundwork for seeking Swalwell's support for months, at least, since word of his interest in the supervisorial race first surfaced via a telephone poll last summer. According to campaign finance records, Parker contributed $1,500 to Swalwell’s re-election campaign on June 20.

In a statement, Parker said Swalwell and Wieckowski were within their rights to voice an opinion on the Castro Valley issue. In addition, he called Miley's comments "nonsensical."

"Any public official serving the population of Castro Valley has a right to weigh in on what is a matter of democracy concerning their shared constituents," said Parker. "Nate's outrage over them weighing in seems a further attempt at thwarting the democratic process and having an elected MAC and keeping it appointed."

Rob Bonta: Million dollar man

Assemblymember Rob Bonta raised $933,130
in campaign contributions in 2015.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS | Assemblymember Rob Bonta is already known as one of the most prolific fundraisers in the East Bay. Now he can be described as the "Million Dollar Man" following campaign finance reports released last week. Bonta reported $1,038,301 in cash reserves through Dec. 31.

Bonta, in fact, nearly raised $1 million during the entire year. Although Bonta won't likely need the fundraising reserves for re-election in the 18th Assembly District for the foreseeable future, the reservoir of cash will expand his stature within the Democratic Party and among candidates in other races across the state.

Below is Bonta's year-end totals, along with other Assembly and state Senate districts in the East Bay and Alameda County's two Congressional Districts:

         ----2ND HALF----     ----2015----
AD18          IN      OUT         IN     OUT       CASH
BONTA    402,156  148,548    933,130 324,346 $1,038,301 

AD20          IN      OUT         IN     OUT       CASH
QUIRK    153,836  107,542    321,831 147,537 $  180,093

AD15          IN      OUT         IN     OUT       CASH
THURMOND 213,102  180,140    503,871 278,451 $  232,407

AD14          IN      OUT         IN     OUT       CASH
TORLAKSN 178,107   32,247    178,107  32,247 $  152,430
GRAYSON   14,922   17,950    119,822  18,908 $  101,851

AD16          IN      OUT         IN     OUT       CASH
BAKER    471,647  222,887    898,714 351,598 $  576,768
KALLIO   -no report-

AD25          IN      OUT         IN     OUT       CASH
CHU       41,950   23,079     73,650  74,309 $   49,358
BRUNTON    1,150      619      1,150     619 $      530

SD7           IN      OUT         IN     OUT       CASH
GLAZER   452,408   61,387    511,058  64,121 $  531,853

SD10          IN      OUT         IN     OUT       CASH
WIECKWSKI 12,200    5,815     13,950   9,946 $    5,204

         ----4TH QTR----     ----2015----
CA13          IN      OUT         IN     OUT       CASH
LEE      158,397  111,988    584,080 560,162 $  115,301

CA15          IN      OUT         IN     OUT       CASH
SWALWELL 196,417  110,703  1,075,924 560,925 $  849,433  

Monday, February 8, 2016

Stewart Chen-speare mulls a return to Alameda City Council

Stewart Chen appears to be itching for a return
to the Alameda City Council.
ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | "To run or not to run. That is the question," wrote former Alameda City Councilmember Stewart Chen on Facebook last week.

With two open seats on the council this fall and a public discourse over the island's rental crisis roiling virtually every meeting, Chen may believe there is an opportunity for a return to the council.

In addition to an increase in social media posts, Chen was seen at last Tuesday's council meeting. But not to weigh-in on the proposed rent ordinances listed on the night's agenda, but in support of a colleague's petition to reverse a planning board decision denying a permit for the Circle K on Webster Street to sell alcohol.

Chen blasted the council's decision on Facebook. "Another blow to Asian Americans in Alameda!" he wrote. He was also critical of two council members who opposed the liquor license, saying their reasoning was "arbitrary and capricious," the same words used by Mayor Trish Spencer, who supported the license.

But, despite Chen's strong support in the Asian American community, his electoral history is underwhelming. Although, he won election to the council in 2012, it came with a caveat. Chen finished third in the race for two seats, but was elected only because then-Councilmember Rob Bonta was elected to the State Assembly. Under Alameda election laws, the next closest vote-getter was in line to finish the remaining two years of Bonta's term.

In 2014, Chen performed similarly at the polls, again finishing third in a race with two open council seats, but this time without a fail-safe.

Shakespearean flurry, notwithstanding, Chen's campaign for re-election in 2014 was somewhat of a Greek tragedy. Earlier in the year came a report detailing his involvement 20 years prior in an insurance fraud ring. Chen received two years probation, paid a $50,000 fine, and believed the incident was wiped from her record. But to quote Macbeth, "What's done cannot be undone."

"They didn't have anything on me," Chen said of the fraud conviction. The report likely torpedoed his re-election.

If Chen decides to run for the city council this fall, he may be a part of growing field of strong candidates. In addition to incumbent Councilmembers Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Tony Daysog, attorney and union activist Malia Vella is eyeing a run, as is Jeff Cambra, who ran in 2012.

Bill Quirk labels Steve Glazer a ‘So-called moderate Democrat’

Assemblymember Bill Quirk said moderates like
Steve Glazer vote to keep people in jail.
LEGISLATURE | To the uninitiated, Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk may look like a standard-issue Hollywood curmudgeon, but the exterior often masks a warm, paternal manner. So, when Quirk, a Democrat, unleashed some intraparty venom towards State Sen. Steve Glazer recently, it was a bit out of character.

If there is one issue that rankles Quirk since joining the Assembly in 2013, it’s the state’s top two primary election system, and its help in elected moderates, but especially moderate Democrats, like Glazer.

As Alameda County Democrats gathered last week to issue their endorsement preferences for the statewide party, Quirk used his speaking time to rail against moderates, who, he said, are hindering the progressive agenda in Sacramento.

Glazer, who was elected last May, is making few
friends in the party's progressive caucus.
“The top two allows more challenges from so-called moderate Democrats,” said Quirk, in reference to Glazer, a Democrat who won the special election last May in the Seventh State Senate District. Glazer, however, often labels himself a progressive, but labor unions loath him for his continuing stance against public transit employees and their right to strike.

Quirk, a member of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, used as an example, the push by progressives for reform of the prison justice system is being stymied by a coalition of Republicans and moderate Democrats. Quirk said, “Glazer votes to put people in jail more.”

The criticism of the top two format is nearly identical to one Quirk lodged during his re-election in 2014 against two Republicans. During a candidate forum, he said,“We are getting more and more so-called New Democrats, moderate Democrats, and it’s getting very difficult now to get some very good legislation passed.”

Friday, February 5, 2016

Coliseum JPA's proposed Raiders lease is the best in NFL history, says supervisor

Coliseum JPA member says undisclosed Raiders
lease proposal is "fair and reasonable."
RAIDERS | The Coliseum Joint Powers Authority is offering the Raiders a lease extension so good that Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty is calling it the best “in the history of the NFL.”

Haggerty, who is the president of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and a long-time member of Coliseum JPA, said during an interview on the East Bay Citizen Podcast, that he intended to make details of the offer public during last Wednesday’s closed session JPA meeting. He did not disclose the proposed lease extension, but offered scant details beforehand.

LISTEN to Haggerty discuss the Raiders, A's, Warriors stadium saga on the EAST BAY CITIZEN PODCAST below.

“The deal that we have given them is probably better than any deal—the deal that we have recently offered them in the last couple of weeks—is better than any deal, any NFL team, has ever been given in the history of the NFL.”

Haggerty desire to put the lease extension proposal in the public realm is due in part, he said, by a segment of the public who assert the county and other public officials are doing little to solve the stadium situation in Oakland. “I’m tired of the dance," he said. "I want people to know there is a deal and it’s fair and it's reasonable.”

Without offering any details, Haggerty said the proposed Raiders lease extension currently in negotiations is not the same as last year’s one-year deal.

Haggerty said the recent tour by Raiders co-owner Mark Davis of possible stadium sites in Las Vegas was “pretty uncalled for" and believes there remains a good chance the Chargers, the other NFL team tentatively scheduled to move to Los Angeles, will stay in San Diego for the long-term. That would leave the Raiders, he said, as the second tenant at the stadium being built in Inglewood, if a solution is not found in Oakland.

LISTEN: East Bay Citizen Podcast with guest ALCO Supervisor Scott Haggerty

EPISODE 17 | The East Bay Citizen Podcast is back following the holiday break. Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty joins the program for a lively, entertaining discussion. Haggerty had some new insights into the Raiders stadium saga and, of course, revealed some of his gripes.

In the past week, Haggerty laid into some Castro Valley residents during a Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting. He's unapologetic about calling the group "unappreciative" of the board's leadership in the unincorporated area.

Haggerty also touched upon the county campaign finance ordinance he authored in 2010 and its first real test coming with Supervisor Nate Miley's re-election campaign against a well-financed challenger.

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

Thursday, February 4, 2016

(VIDEO) Supe Haggerty to Castro Valley: 'You’re some of the most unappreciative people I’ve seen in my entire life'

Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty
ALCO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS | Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty just couldn't take it any longer. After listening to comments from supporters of an elected advisory board in unincorporated Castro Valley, the often straight-talking supervisor launched into a four-minute diatribe calling its residents "unappreciative" of the Board of Supervisors, while goading them to become a city.

“I’m really feeling unloved by you people today. That’s not the word… maybe unappreciated. I’m talking about the way I’m containing myself right now, because I want to blow up," Haggerty said during a board meeting Tuesday afternoon. Members of the grassroots group Castro Valley Matters had brought to the board the issue of electing its county advisory board, which is currently appointed by their representative, Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley. The Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday against putting the issue on the ballot this year.

Also: "Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty's 'You Don't Know Me' Speech is an instant classic"

"I don’t know what’s going on in Castro Valley. To come down and say ‘better represented,’ you’re some of the most unappreciative people I’ve seen in my entire life.” Haggerty, who also serves as board president, admonished the group for questioning Miley and the board's representation over the years.

In recent years, said Haggerty, the board has allocated $90 million despite the dissolution of redevelopment to rebuilding the streetscape for the town's main thoroughfare, while also constructing a new public library.

“And you’re saying you want better representation? What’s the heck is wrong with you people? We’ve been pumping money back into your community for the last few years since Supervisor Miley has been elected and you want better representation?" Haggerty continued.

A commenter on the Castro Valley Matters Facebook page responded, saying, "Scott Haggerty sounds like it's HIS own money being given to Castro Valley! It's our freaking tax dollars they're 'pumping' back into our town."

Later, Haggerty compared Miley's strong push for funding Castro Valley to being "worse than Fidel Castro."

Following the rant, Haggerty encouraged Castro Valley to incorporate as a city. “My job is not to pay to run elections for you guys. My job is to pay for people who are homeless. My job is to find people homes. My job is to feed people," he said. "Maybe you don’t like what I’m saying, but if you don’t like what I’m saying—incorporate."

Despite the tone of Haggerty's rhetoric Tuesday, it's likely not his most glorious display over the years. The 10-minute screed, now know as the "You Don't Know Me" speech was his response to repeated public comments that Haggerty was insensitive to the plight of undocumented immigrants. "You don’t know me," Haggerty said in April 2013. "I probably have just as many undocumented friends as you do."

Read the transcript from 2013 here and watch the short clip below of Haggerty excoriating Castro Vallyans. (Note: may only be available on devices using Flash Media Player)

After dismal finance report, ALCO Supe Miley says expect a large campaign cache

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley says
his opponent this June, Bryan Parker, better
bring his "A-game."
Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley re-election campaign received a shocking reorientation this week when campaign finance reports highlighted his challenger, Bryan Parker, significantly outraised him over the past three months.

Miley’s finance report showed his campaign with just $5,000 in the bank, but coupled with unpaid debt, it essentially placed his campaign $15,000 in the red just five months before the June 7 primary.

Miley dismissed any concern Wednesday following Parker’s $117,000 in contributions and $76,000 in cash reserves, the campaign reported this week.

“Bryan’s got to raise a lot of money because he’s not known,” said Miley, who has represented the diverse district that includes East Oakland, Pleasanton and much of unincorporated Alameda County since 2000. “I don’t have to raise as much money to be competitive.”

Many East Bay politicos agree with Miley’s assessment. Parker will need to put a considerable amount of energy into introducing himself to voters across the district, but Pleasanton residents, for instance, may not know Miley either. He has only represented the city since 2011 after county redistricting maps were redrawn.

Miley, though, is not surprised that Parker’s was able to raise so much money in such a short time based on his fundraising in the 2014 Oakland mayoral race. During that election cycle, Parker raised more than $300,000.

Miley said he raised a large number of donations in January, after the Dec. 31 campaign finance reporting deadline, but declined to offer a round number. “I raise it and I spend it,” said Miley. The campaign organized a large fundraiser on Jan. 30 at the Claremont Hotel.

With the likelihood high that the incumbent supervisor will face a competitive race for re-election over the next few months, Miley said he intends to run a strong campaign and won’t take anything for granted. “I don’t expect it to be handed to me on a silver platter. I never have,” said Miley, before referring to Parker “I hope he’s bringing his A-game, because I’m bringing mine.”