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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley fights back Bryan Parker's call for change

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley awaiting
his opponent Bryan Parker, with campaign volunteer,
Bob Swanson in the foreground.
ALCO BOARD OF SUPERVISOR | DISTRICT 4 |
The opening round of what many think will become a hard-hitting race for Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley’s District Four seat failed to deliver much punch Tuesday night as both as he and challenger Bryan Parker only took exploratory jabs at each other at a forum in Castro Valley.

“I don’t see the sheriff in the room,” said Miley, “so I know we’re going to have a good, civil discussion this evening.”

“I will if you will,” said Parker. And for the most part the first meeting of the candidates for the June primary was without incident. Parker, a former Oakland mayoral candidate in 2014, pledged new energy for the district which represents East Oakland to Pleasanton. Miley, meanwhile, spent most of the forum touting his accomplishments over the last 15 years in office while defending the Board of Supervisors record.

>>ALSO: Miley, Parker amendable to using county reserves for stadium infrastructure

>>WATCH: Candidates discuss county adminstrator's $500k pension


>>WATCH: (Below) Opening and closing statements from the ALCOD4 town hall

“Even though I’ve had success,” said Miley, “I’m not resting on my success. Success is only temporary. It’s only ‘What have you done for me lately’ and I haven’t done enough for you lately. I’m looking to do more and I hope you rehire me.”

Bryan Parker and Nate Miley taking questions
at a town hall in Castro Valley.
On a number of occasions Parker attempted to cast Miley as entrenched and lacking vigor for the job. On the topic of enacting term limits for county supervisors, Parker agreed with the sentiment. Without them, said Parker, “We have staleness and we lose passion to do the job.”

The lack of term limits at the county level has proven effective over the past two decades in keeping incumbents in office. Before Parker’s challenge this year, Miley has faced a primary opponent twice since being elected in 2000. A petition for placing the term limits issue on the ballot was floated last year, but later withdrawn by its proponents. “It’s up for the voters to decide,” countered Miley. “I think having a seasoned county supervisor is fundamentally important. It’s not on-the-job experience.”

Later, on the issue of economic development, Parker attacked, this time, asserting business plans in the unincorporated areas are not being executed in a timely manner, despite evidence of available real estate. Miley, though, said Castro Valley Boulevard’s extensive streetscape remodel has been successful and his office is currently studying the feasibility of projects all over unincorporated Alameda County. “These things don’t happen overnight,” he said.

Parker then charged Miley and the Board of Supervisors with “analysis paralysis” when it comes to the area's public works projects. Miley shot back, “I like to get results. I like hard hats, cranes, bulldozers—to me, that’s the smell of progress. I don’t have any paralysis. Let’s keep moving forward.”

With a $350 million countywide housing bond expected on the November ballot, Miley urged public and private entities, including non-profits to add to the housing stock as much as they can. Parker agreed, but added, the county should pass a living wage ordinance “so people can stay in their homes.” Both voiced strong opinions against any type of rent control in unincorporated Alameda County. Parker said it does nothing to address shortages in supply. “I think that’s a disincentive for building more housing stock,” he said. Miley response was brief. “I agree with my opponent. We don’t need any rent control.”

The desire of some Castro Valleyans to secure greater control over their government over the past few years has led to discussions for removing Miley’s sole power to appoint the area’s lone form of local government, the Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Committee, with a board elected by residents. An offshoot of this discourse has also again raised the issue of incorporation, which voters have voted down three times, but not since 2001.

On one side, Parker said he supports an elected MAC to allow for more public control of government and would lay out a 10-year plan for incorporation if voters support such a plan. Miley, though, has taken no stance on the MAC issue, saying he wants to gauge public opinion by first placing the matter on the ballot. However, a majority of the Board of Supervisors did not lend support for the potential initiative last February. Later, Miley expressed doubt whether the voters in Castro Valley want an elected MAC or incorporation. “I think people think the county is doing a good job.”



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

San Leandro's push for minimum wage boost continues despite state legislation

San Leandro Councilmember Jim Prola wants the
city's minimum wage to rise to $12 by 2017.
SAN LEANDRO | California's minimum wage could rise to $10.50 by the end of this year, if a bill backed by Gov. Jerry Brown is approved by the state legislature, and jump to $15 an hour by 2022. But in more affluent coastal cities around the East Bay, a steeper climb to $15 is needed for low-wage earners to survive.

In San Leandro, discussions for enacting a citywide minimum wage boost have been ongoing since last November.

San Leandro Councilmember Jim Prola, a top proponent for the raising the city's minimum wage, says he will continue to push the City Council toward raising the rate to $15 an hour more quicker than the state's pending legislation. The city has no minimum wage rate on its books and follows the statewide $10 an hour wage.

He tells the East Bay Citizen he will again bring the issue to the City Council's finance committee, which has debated various proposal severely times since late last year.

Prola supports raising the minimum wage in San Leandro to $12 an hour by January 2017, although he prefers reaching $15 an hour by 2018. "I don't think we can get there by 2018 because we started so late, but I don't know why we can't go to 12 next year and maybe go a couple bucks more after," although he added, "I may not have the votes to do that."

Last November, the three-member finance committee expressed surprising support for raising the city's minimum wage at a more progressive rate. Prola had suggested tying the rate with San Leandro's living wage ordinance, the wage it pays workers who contract with the city. That rate falls just under $15 an hour. But, over the next few months, the tenor of support for such a steep increase has dampened.

Some members have balked at a proposal to link annual increases in the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index, including Councilmember Benny Lee, who sits on the finance committee.

"We have a difference of opinion," said Lee. "I really believe we need to support our local businesses." However, Lee indicated he supports a tiered wage scale that requires corporations like Walmart and Home Depot, for instance, to paying higher minimum wages. "That money goes to Wall Street," he said. "That's doesn't help us locally."

Lee said Monday that he support San Leandro sticking with the state's proposed plan to stagger increases over the next six years, if passed by the legislature.

The other five members of the City Council have also shown varying degrees of reticence toward how much the city's minimum wage should increase and how quickly. Three members of the council and the current mayor registered support for raising the minimum wage during their last campaigns in 2014.

A state assembly committee moved Gov. Brown's proposal forward Wednesday. If approved, the state's minimum wage would increase to $10.50 in 2017; $11 in 2018; and $1 over the next four years.

Parker backs use of county reserves for stadium infrastructure

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, right,
is facing a well-financed challenge from former
Oakland mayoral candidate Bryan Parker.
ALCO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS | DISTRICT 4 |
The Oakland Raiders are about $500 million short when it comes to financing a new stadium in Oakland while Alameda County is sitting on budget reserves of around $1 billion. Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley and June primary challenger Bryan Parker both believe the county could tap some of those reserves for public infrastructure related to the construction of a new football stadium.

Parker, a former Oakland mayoral candidate from two years ago, said the county is “over-reserved” and could earmark some of the excess toward paying down unfunded liabilities, especially post-retirement benefits, along with contributing to public infrastructure projects connected to any future stadium at the current Coliseum property.

The exchange occurred Tuesday evening during a candidate’s town hall in Castro Valley. The Alameda County District Four Board of Supervisors seat represents East Oakland to Pleasanton and includes much of unincorporated Alameda County.

County reserves are not only set aside for emergencies but to help build a strong credit rating, Miley responded. “Reserves are important. It’s part of best practices,” said Miley. “No, I won’t touch reserves. I would only touch that in an emergency situation. That’s a cardinal principle. We want to have strong reserves if necessary to fall back on.”

In an interview after Tuesday's town hall, Miley indicated a willingness for limited use of reserves for stadium infrastructure, along with bonding. “If we’re going to do something with the public resources, maybe infrastructure, maybe some bonds—and it’s got to be limited, even then,” said Miley. In an interview Friday, Miley said the use of county reserves are "sacrosanct" and should only be used for emergencies and not for stadium construction or infrastructure. (See note below)

Earlier, Parker lauded the county administrator for building up healthy reserve over the years, but added, “They should be used in bad times. We only have to look back to the crash in ’08 and see those are times that we might want to dig down, but that’s not the only time,” said Parker. Based on other municipalities across the country, Parker added, “We’re over-reserved, meaning that if we took some reserves off the table, we would still have a very good credit rating.”

Specifically with the Coliseum, Parker said, “I think we should only be putting our money into public infrastructure,” not toward the cost of the building the new stadium.

The general use of public money to fund infrastructure, such as roads, sewers and other public works projects connected to a new stadium has long been advocated by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. The city and county jointly own and operate the current Coliseum property. Miley, though, has often suggested the county sell its stake in the property, although he said Tuesday night he still supports a much cheaper remodel of the Coliseum, instead.

NOTE: A clarification was added to Miley's answer for using reserves on stadium-related financing.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

San Leandro mayor highlights city's rapid rebirth while grappling with growing pains

San Leandro Mayor Pauline Cutter following her
state of the city address Monday.
SAN LEANDRO | It could be argued that San Leandro, Oakland's often overlooked neighbor to the south, is in the midst of prosperity and excitement not seen in generations. At least, San Leandro Mayor Pauline Cutter made the argument Monday evening during her State of the City address before a large standing-room audience.

In fact, sentiment for San Leandro being on the cusp of boom times is growing across the region. It was one of the first East Bay cities to adjust its city resources before the worst of the last recession and conversely the first to replenish its spent treasury at its conclusion. A much-admired downtown fiber optics loop and a growing high-tech manufacturing culture has blossomed since.

The growth has led to large-scale public works projects around the new Kaiser Permanente campus near Marina Boulevard and Davis Street. "We focused on our bones--our infrastructure," said Cutter, who urged patience as street traffic increases and diversions continue to be common.

San Leandro's roads have been known as some of the worst in Alameda County for some time. The city will invest $2.6 million in road repairs this year, said Cutter, and million more over the next two years. "Paving these many streets will mean we'll be going through some growing pains," she said.

Marea Alta apartments currently under construction
near San Leandro BART will include 115 units of
affordable and workforce housing.
A transit-oriented plan is also being discussed that hopes to breathe new life into the areas around Bayfair Mall and its adjoining BART station. More than 700 new housing units in Downtown San Leandro are in the planning process, she added, along with another 350 new residential units at the San Leandro Marina. Over the next year, the City Council will discuss updating its inclusionary zoning ordinance to ensure 15 percent of all new units are set aside for affordable housing, said Cutter.

Rising rents and evictions that have followed rapid growth in other East Bay cities is quickly becoming an issue in San Leandro. Although the tenor of public discourse over the rent issue is less than its neighbors in Oakland and Alameda, renters in San Leandro, nonetheless, have repeatedly voiced concern over the number of exorbitant rent increases and mass evictions, tenants say, are becoming more common.

Cutter said the city is committed exploring solutions to stabilize the situation. "We remain concerned about tenant protections and unfair displacement of some of our residents," she said. In addition, a partnership announced last week between non-profits and landlord groups to provide the city's chronically homeless with 25 units of housing along with social services is one plan. The project called the San Leandro Compact has already placed two people in housing units, said Cutter.

In addition, despite one homicide last year, Cutter said "San Leandro continues to be safe," citing a five percent overall drop in crime.

Yet, for all the good news coming out of San Leandro, flickers of its distance past have made themselves known in recent weeks. The city's police department reported earlier in the day that racist graffiti was found Sunday near a children's playground at the San Leandro Marina.

A similar incident occurred sometime before Mar. 9, this time on an office door belonging to the San Leandro Unified School District. "It's not okay to have that happen in San Leandro, We don't tolerate it here." said Cutter, just before delivering her prepared remarks Monday. "It's not who we are or who we represent."

Monday, March 28, 2016

EBCAMPAIGN: Is Glazer trying to help Baker beat her Democratic opponent?; HONDA'S BABY MAMA DRAMA; Hayward CM is an emoji; IDLF's SLATE

70 DAYS UNTIL PRIMARY DAY |
Earlier this year, I visited one of the six joint legislative town halls organized by Democratic State Sen. Steve Glazer and Republican Assemblymemer Catharine Baker. This particular town hall in Orinda, a city within the overlapping swath of districts covered by each freshman legislator, was attended almost exclusively by older voters. Similarly, the bipartisan screeds against BART employees represented by unions leveled by each was met exclusively with overwhelming approval. Beating the anti-BART workers drum always works in this area of Contra Costa County. Whereas, Glazer and Baker owe their seats to angry voters upset over the BART strikes of over two years ago, something feels different as both, particularly Glazer, face re-election for the very first times. In recent weeks, Glazer has gone from pounding the BART drum to actually using the drum stick to bludgeon workers. With BART suffering from a string of malfunctions all over its system, Glazer has taken to the airwaves and Twitter to again exploit the politicization of employee unions.

State Sen. Steve Glazer and Assemblymember 
Catharine Baker at a town hall in Orinda earlier 
this year. PHOTO/Steven Tavares
Nobody is saying the malfunctions hampering BART services are due to workers negligence, but Glazer has hinted so with six days worth of attacks via his Twitter account and his assertions seem much more aggressive than any he made during the actual strikes or his campaign for the state Senate last May. Maybe the attacks are related to his re-election campaign? That would make sense, but few believe the pair challenging Glazer this June have a chance of unseating him. But pull back the lens and recall the inordinate number of town halls held with the Republican Baker over the past few months along with the fact the Democrat-led Assembly leadership desperately wants to win back Baker's seat this fall. The town hall appearances and Glazer's reigniting of the potent BART strike issue leads some to believe short of the Democrat endorsing Baker, he is actively stoking the BART furor and, by extension, helping her beat back the challenge from the Democrat in the race for the 16th Assembly District, former Pleasanton Councilmember Cheryl Cook-Kallio. And it's not like Cook-Kallio is that much different from the ideological center that Glazer governs from, and in some cases, Baker, too. At the end of the Orinda town hall, I asked Glazer why he doesn't just become an independent in Sacramento. His answer was colored with nostalgia for the Democratic brand. "I kind of like being a Democrat," said Glazer. Kind of like a transplanted New Yorker living in Oakland might like the A's, but in their heart, always a Yankees fan.
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ALAMEDA | Is This Place Bugged?
The push for rent control in Alameda is hitting the streets starting this week. Island resident will begin noticing members of the Alameda Renters Coalition gathering signatures for inclusion of a measure limiting annual rent increases to just below the Consumer Price Index in time for the November ballot. The group, which has been pivotal in bringing the issues of skyrocketing rent prices to the forefront in Alameda, says it needs to gather 9,000 valid signatures over the next month. In recent weeks, the group has been using the Alameda Firefighters' Union Hall for strategy meetings. But renters might be wise to sweep the place for listening devices. That's because the offices on Clement Street also houses Alameda consultant Barbara Price. She's a person with close ties to developers and big-time property owners in town. Any strategy to thwart the renters' push for a charter amendment to stabilize rents will likely come from Price. Word is during one renters meeting, Price objected to them using one of her chairs.
****
Rep. Mike Honda
PHOTO/Steven Tavares
CA17 | Baby Mama Drama
When regional members of the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) announced they were switching support from 17th Congressional District Rep. Mike Honda for Ro Khanna, the news was notably because it hinted at cracks in the incumbent's greatest field of support--labor unions. No further fractures in labor's support have been seen since and it appears in the case of LIUNA all politics is not only local, but very personal. Flashback to last year when state Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Southern California Democrat, issued support for Khanna. De Leon has ties to LIUNA, but also a parental bound with San Jose Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco. The two share a son together. The loss of the LIUNA endorsement may partly be the result of Honda declining to endorse Carrasco's runs for the San Jose City Council. Furthermore, when LIUNA announced they were endorsing Khanna this year Carrasco was up there lending her support.
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Ignacio De La Fuente during an Oakland
candidates forum in 2012. PHOTO/Shane Bond
OAKLAND | Mr. Irrelevant
Words around Oakland is former Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente (IDLF) still wants to be a power player the city's politics and he's forming a slate of candidates to oppose three of the four incumbents this fall. The lone candidate outside of IDLF's sights is Fruitvale Councilmember Noel Gallo, whose 2012 campaign he strongly supported. In that race, many believe IDLF was behind a number of stinging political hits against Gallo's opponent, current Alameda County Central Committee member Mario Juarez. When asked about IDLF's rumored slate, the always candid Juarez shot back,"That's the kind of things you do when you're irrelevant." Full disclosure: Juarez's comments may have also included a few expletives for emphasis.

Hayward CM Francisco Zermeno and his
emoji doppelganger.
HANGING CHADS | Future of Fight for 15 in San Leandro
There are 10 candidates running this June for four seats on the Hayward City Council, but only one of them can be depicted as an emoji. Tell me Councilmember Francisco Zermeno (right) doesn't look like the brown grandpa emoji .... Honda's campaign is beginning to highlight his strong ties to labor. Not only did they trumpet a number of union endorsements this week, but it followed the trotting out of Dolores Huerta's support for his re-election. Huerta's credentials in the labor movement are unquestioned, but its seems every union-supporting elected official and candidate relies on her. It begs the question: Who is the next generation of the labor movement in California and Latinos in general? .... It remains to be seen whether Gov. Jerry Brown's announcement Monday of legislation that will increase the state's minimum wage to $15 by 2022 will affect East Bay cities like San Leandro, which is currently discussing its own city ordinances. Councilmember Jim Prola, the strongest proponent for the increase, said last month, the proposed ordinance could be shelved if a ballot measure did the trick instead .... Alameda County Supervisor candidate Bryan Parker spoke about the African American experience at last week's American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington D.C. Parker's strong support for AIPAC since January has some puzzled as to how it relates to this campaign this June to unseat District Four Supervisor Nate Miley. We might understand better after the April 28 pre-election campaign finance reports are due.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Gloria Allred blasts Hayward School District for allowing Ray McDonald to speak at Tennyson High

Gloria Allred says if Hayward can't find anyone
better to speak to students, she'll do it herself.
HAYWARD SCHOOL DISTRICT | Well-known civil rights attorney Gloria Allred sent a letter to the Hayward School District this week that was critical of its decision to allow former 49er Ray McDonald, currently on trial for rape, to speak to at-risk students at Tennyson High School.

In the letter to Hayward Superintendent Stan "Data" Dobbs, Allred called the decision "highly inappropriate," according to TMZ. Allred is representing the accuser in a Santa Clara County court next month.

Allred also speculated over the intent of McDonald appearance at the high school on Feb. 25. "It may be that Mr. McDonald through his appearance and speech to your students was seeking to have a positive impact on the potential jury pool in his upcoming criminal trial," wrote Allred. "I wonder, however, why you would appear to be amendable to supporting him in this strategy if indeed that was his goal."

Hayward Superintendent Stan Dobbs
Allred later asked for invitation to speak to Tennyson students about women's rights, "if you would be willing to invite me," she wrote. A source tells the East Bay Citizen that the school district intends to accept Allred's offer.

Meanwhile, the background behind McDonald's appearance last month is still sketchy. In the initial report, a spokesperson for the Hayward Promise Neighborhood, a $25 million federal program to help impoverished Hayward students succeed, unequivocally said Superintendent Dobbs knew of the event beforehand.

The school district, however, told NBC Bay Area that Hayward Promise was behind it. Last Friday, the same Hayward Promise spokesperson declined to make any further comment on the matter.

Community-based groups call on ALCO supes to appoint interim probation chief

ALCO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS |
Some Alameda County community-based organizations are calling for Chief Probation Officer La Donna Harris to be replaced now.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors is in the process of finding a permanent chief probation officer to replace Harris, who is still on the job while a replacement is found.

Earlier this month during a meeting of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, some representatives of community-based organizations asked the board to appoint an interim probation chief while it continues its search for a permanent replacement.

“I think, in our opinion, things are really deteriorating to the point that not a lot of work is being done,” said Darius Young, representing Oakland’s Ella Baker Center, during a Mar. 8 board meeting.

Harris has come under criticism over the past six months or more for a number of questionable personnel decisions and morale over the same period is reportedly low.

Alameda County Chief Probation Officer
LaDonna Harris
Young and others said the process of seeking out qualified candidates and the hiring of a new chief could take months and the current state of the department which oversees more than 11,000 juvenile and adult probationers needs change at the top immediately.

“It’s our consensus that we should move for an interim until we can find someone permanent,” said Young. The CBO also sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors conveying the same sentiment.

In addition, a fraction of the funding allocated to probation in the fiscal year 2014-15 budget has been applied to employment contracts, they said.

Harris’s tenure as probation chief was numbered by the end of last year after she faced strong resistance from labor groups for filling some management positions with employees who did not possess requisite experience for the jobs.

A memo from Harris to her department in early January indicated her contract would not be renewed and the county was actively beginning the process of finding her successor. However, it appears little has been done on the county’s end.

Two months after Harris’s memo, on Mar. 11, the county’s human resources director met with all units within the probation department to ascertain specific qualities they desired in the next chief.

When the Board of Supervisors meet next Tuesday, Mar. 29, sources say more pressure will likely be applied on the county supervisors to opt for an interim probation chief more sooner than later. Harris has served as chief probation officer since 2012.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Honda’s campaign touts local labor endorsements

Rep. Mike Honda donning boxing gloves just
weeks before Election Day in October 2014.
PHOTO/Steven Tavares
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Above all else, Rep. Mike Honda’s ace card is his strong support from labor unions. With a round of local labor endorsements announced Wednesday, Honda is again flexing his union support.

The campaign announced the backing of the California Teamsters Public Affairs Council; Peace Officers Research Association, California School Employees Association; and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 521.

While the list may not be terribly well-known to many voters in the 17th Congressional District, it is clearly a reminder of Honda’s traditional backing by many unions, both locally and nationally.

“It is indicative that unions who have supported Congressman Honda in the past are rallying around the only true progressive in the race,” said Vedant Patel, Honda’s communication director. “He has the full support of working families and the unions know that.”

Patel, however, discounted support Democratic challenger Ro Khanna received last January from the Laborers' International Union of North America (LiUNA), Pacific Southwest Region. Some media reports suggested the union switching support to Khanna was an indicator of overall uncertainty over Honda and his pending House ethics investigation.

"Ro is proud of the incredible support he has received from around the Bay Area from working families, laborers, local leaders and community organizations; including LiUNA, Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, and District Attorney, Jeff Rosen," said Brian Parvizshahi, Khanna's campaign manager.

"He has been an active voice in protecting the rights of our working families across the district -- including standing with Sunnyvale residents during city council hearings by calling to adopt local hire ordinances and prevailing wages."

Assembly Speaker pegs 16th District as a top opportunity for Democrats

Assemblymember Catharine Baker and
challenger Cheryl Cook-Kallio.
ASSEMBLY | 16TH DISTRICT | It took six years for Republicans to snatch the 16th Assembly District from Democrats. Now Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon wants it back in the Democrat's column after just one election cycle.

Rendon called the campaign for the Contra Costa County and Tri Valley-centered seat held by Republican Catharine Baker a “top pick-up opportunity for Democrats in the Assembly.”

Former Pleasanton Councilmember Cheryl Cook-Kallio, a Democrat, is the only other candidate in the June primary campaign. Because of the open primary system, they will face each other again the November general election, regardless of the outcome on June 7.

The new speaker said Cook-Kallio is a perfect fit for a district that tends to lean moderate. “We are going to give Cheryl all the support she needs to get elected this November,” said Rendon.

Cook-Kallio hinted to the East Bay Citizen last month that Rendon intended to focus Democrats on her race this year.

The 16th District is one of the few areas in the East Bay that includes a large number of registered Republicans (31.9 percent), while Democrats represent 39.9 percent of the electorate. Independents also hold sway with 22.7 percent of voters.

Two years ago, Baker was the beneficiary of two moderate Democrats—Tim Sbranti and Steve Glazer—splitting the vote in the primary. Baker then easily won in November on the strength of her opposition to BART strikes, an issue that energized the Republican base.

Republican primary voters may again flock to the polls because of the first contested presidential primary in California in a generation coming this June. But the 16th District’s demographical breakdown could skew towards a Democrat in November, especially if the top-of-the-ballot matchup is between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Glazer attacks BART employees after latest system breakdown

State Sen. Steve Glazer is again taking the right
side of the tracks.
STATE SENATE | 7TH DISTRICT | Day Four of East Bay State Sen. Steve Glazer's Twitter rant against BART workers resumed Monday.

Following the malfunction of dozens of BART trains near the Pittsburg-Bay Point station and subsequent shut down of services, Glazer has taken to social media to lay the blame on BART union employees and their salaries.

Rest assured, his sentiment is nothing new. Glazer's nascent political career first gathered steam after he began demonizing the BART strikes in 2013. Last Thursday, Glazer kicked off his string of tweets critical of BART, including management and, of course, transit employees
Glazer has been willing spar with whomever rebuts his position, including one who equated Glazer's position toward workers to Donald Trump and another who questioned why Glazer is a Democrat.
Clearly, Glazer is trying to capitalize on the recent BART shut downs for political points in a state Senate district that largely agrees with his anti-union rhetoric. Glazer is facing re-election for the first time year, but his continued reliance on the BART strike/shutdown meme coupled with his strong insistence to link himself to Republican Assemblymember Catharine Baker is beginning to show a slow, but deliberate descent toward the right. Look at it a different way, Glazer is clearly not showing any signs of veering to the left. That's for sure.

UPDATE: Glazer's Twitter rant, Day Six:


Who has money in the Hayward City Council race and who doesn't?

Hayward Councilmember Elisa Marquez has
the most unencumbered available cash in  the
10-person June council election.
HAYWARD CITY COUNCIL | In a place like Hayward where daily reporting on City Hall is non-existent and community apathy is high, candidate for the City Council often rely solely on direct-mail campaign literature to engage voters.

And because a $20,000 campaign war chest usually more than enough to cover the costs of running, Hayward’s race this June for four at-large seats could be decided on who has the money for postage needed to churn out effective mailers.

So, who has money and who doesn’t, according to the latest finance reports through the end of 2015?

Only 5 of the 10 candidates filed finance reports through Dec. 31, 2015. Councilmember Al Mendall leads the field in cash on hand with $30,397, but he also possesses the largest amount of debt--$20,094. The total includes two $10,000 personal loans to his campaign, issued in October of last year.

That being said, Councilmember Elisa Marquez, who was appointed to the council two years ago, has by far the most stable campaign account with $24,332 in cash reserves and no debt. Former Councilmember Mark Salinas reported $7,155 in ending cash through 2015, followed by Councilmember Francisco Zermeno with $3,630 in available cash, but also $16,000 in loans. Hayward school board member John Taylor reported $2,200 in cash.

The next campaign finance reporting deadline--the first of two "pre-election" filings--is April 28, followed by May 26.

Other candidates for the June election who have not yet filed campaign finance reports: Hayward businessman Brian Schott; retired Hayward department head Matt McGrath; community activist Wynn Grcich; real estate agent Leo Ram; and security guard Kenneth Rollins. Current Councilmember Greg Jones is not running for re-election.

Special interest groups may also be a factor in Hayward’s council race. A quick reading of many of the candidate statements shows they believe support for public safety is popular among voters. The Hayward Firefighters Political Action Committee (PAC) reported cash reserves of $21,661, through Dec. 31. The Hayward Police Officers Association PAC reported $17,743. In addition, the Hayward Chamber of Commerce’s PAC, Good Government Now, showed $3,053 in cash on hand.

Friday, March 18, 2016

G'day mate! Bonta, Wieckowski take another trip together

State Sen. Bob Wieckowski and Asm Rob Bonta
ASSEMBLY | The East Bay's legislative odd couple--Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta and Fremont State Sen. Bob Wieckowski--have traveled the world together in recent years. The duo has hobnobbed twice together on the beaches of Maui for junkets paid for by special interests. And just last year the pair visited Singapore on the dime of another lobbying group.

Now, Bonta and Wieckowski's adventures will take them to Australia for answers to California's fight against long-term drought.

The lawmaker's trip is being footed by the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy, which also paid for the fact-finding trip to Singapore last year, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Other legislators are making the trip to study Australia's response to its 15-year drought, including South Bay Assemblymember Evan Low.

The prevalence of these trips, technically "working vacations," have often worried good government advocates for their potential to sway lawmakers with all-expense paid trips, often to exotic locales. The trips are not cheap, either. The tab from last year's Maui junket, according to each traveler's financial interests report, topped $3,000. (See tweet below)

Bonta and Wieckowski are not the only local officials to rack up frequent flier miles. Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk has attended the infamous Maui junket, even posting a photo of his snorkeling adventure.

Last year, Richmond Assemblymember Tony Thurmond attended the Maui soiree and a few years ago, then-Assemblymember Nancy Skinner attended a junket in Cuba, which included salsa dancing lessons.

EBCAMPAIGN: BONTA REACHES THE INNER CIRCLE ; Swalwell raises alarm over token GOP challenge; QUAN'S HUSBAND DEFENDS HER HONOR

B80 DAYS TO PRIMARY DAY | Assemblymember Rob Bonta's rise within the state's Democratic power structure was only slightly tarnished when he was relieved by new Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon two weeks ago of his prime committee chairmanship. Bonta made a run late last year for the speakership and lost. Bonta losing the chair of the Health Committee was seen as a House of Cards-like rebuke by Rendon of a political rival. Bonta wasn't completely shut out, though. Rendon named him chair of the Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security Committee. Bonta previously helmed the committee starting in 2013. But, insiders believe the trade-off really isn't much of loss for Bonta. That's because Bonta is now viewed as one of the four or five members of Rendon's inner-circle. The strong appeal earlier this month by Bonta to push through a package of anti-smoking and vaping bill is an indication of his loyalty to the Assembly Democrat's new majordomo. And, by the way, Bonta's popularity among Assembly Democrats is also evident. He was closer to the speakership than previously known. According to sources, Bonta received 20 votes for speaker, which was second to Rendon's 27.

Rep. Eric Swalwell passes the hat around.
CA15 | SWALWELL APPEALS FOR DONATIONS AGAINST GOP TOMATO CAN
Rep. Eric Swalwell is using the presence of a first-time Republican candidate challenging his re-election as a focal point for raising campaign contributions. Livermore resident Danny Turner qualified for the June ballot last week, but his campaign does not seem like much more than a vanity project. "I aim to unite the people to take back their government," says his web site. He also pledges to "end campaign bribery." Turner has not yet filed a financial report, but it's doubtful he will be able to raise much money at all. Swalwell, on the other hand, topped $1 million in campaign contributions last year. Like most congressional incumbents, a majority of his money came from special interests. But, Swalwell's campaign is apparently using every excuse to draw small donors into the fold, even by trumpeting the non-existent credentials of his GOP challenger. In an email to supporters that includes the ominous subject line, "This isn't good," Swalwell's campaign wrote, "An opponent just threw his hat into the ring to run against Eric. That’s why we need our rapid-response supporters...to step up for Eric today."

Alameda renters filing a rent control ballot
measure with the city last Feb. 29.
PHOTO/Steven Tavares 
ALAMEDA | CHANCE FOR ELECTORAL SHENANIGANS WITH ALAMEDA RENT MEASURE
A representative from Tenants Together, the group backing rent control efforts at the ballot box this fall in Alameda, Richmond and Oakland, acknowledged the possibility that landlord interests will attempt to sabotage their efforts with dirty tricks. One potential vessel for landlords, presumably backed by the powerful California Apartment Association, is a counter measure with partial intent to confuse voters with a title that sounds vaguely positive to pro-rent control voters. Something like the name of the Alameda landlords group that ironically calls itself "Alamedans for Fair Rents." The framework for such a counter measure may already exist after Alameda Councilmember Tony Daysog raised the issue of proposing his own measure to roll back portions of a recently approved city ordinance, specifically relocation costs paid by small-time landlords to tenants evicted for no cause. Furthermore, a memo by one prominent Alameda landlord advocate even detailed an idea to shadow renters on the streets procuring signatures to place the measure on the November ballot with literature advocating the landlord's stance.

Dr. Floyd Huen is planning payback to the
AD15 Democratic Central Committee. 
OAKLAND | FLOYD'S REVENGE
Former Oakland Mayor Jean Quan's most loyal supporter, her husband, Dr. Floyd Huen, is a man on a mission. He is one of 19 candidates vying for 9 seats on the Democratic Central Committee in 15th Assembly District this June. However, snagging a seat on these central committees are almost always predicated on having your name included on the party-backed slate of candidates. Huen is not likely to be part of that list of insiders, but that doesn't matter. The former First Man of Oakland is telling politicos in the North Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond district that his candidacy is based on revenge against party leaders who chose not to endorse Quan during her mayoral re-election in 2014. Stay tuned for the revolution.

Rep. Mike Honda is keeping busy.
HANGING CHADS | BUSY BEE
Rep. Mike Honda's congressional office is sure busy letting constituents and the press know what the long-time congressman is doing these days. In recent weeks, his D.C. office has been cranking out press releases on just about a daily basis on everything from Honda's daily doings at the committee level to hosting talent search winners from the South Bay.... Hayward Councilmember Greg Jones did not file for re-election after just one term in office. The filing deadline came and went last Friday and Jones has yet to publicly tells his constituents why he's bailing on them. No responses to the press or even a statement on social media .... Mike Lee is running for mayor of Berkeley. Who is Mike Lee? He is a homeless man and activist for homeless in Berkeley. A great story in the making ....

Thursday, March 17, 2016

CA17: GOP candidate says he’s backing Trump; interested in being his delegate

Silicon Valley GOP congressional candidate
Ron Cohen wants to make the South Bay 
great, again.
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Seventeenth Congressional District Republican candidate Ron Cohen says he needs to differentiate himself from his opponents in the seven-person June primary headlined by Democrats Rep. Mike Honda and Ro Khanna.

Will coming out in support of Donald Trump do the trick? Probably, yes. Cohen announced his support Thursday for the leading Republican presidential candidate.

But, Cohen says his pledge of support for Trump’s presidential campaign Thursday is not entirely a case of political expediency. “I wanted to announce it now before it becomes a sure thing," he said of Trump's push for the GOP nomination. "Saying it now, it’s not gratuitous or jumping on the bandwagon.” said Cohen, a first-time candidate who is also a Fremont certified public accountant. Cohen said he is a former Rand Paul supporter.

He would also welcome a chance to be selected as one of Trump’s delegates if the New York billionaire wins Cohen’s 17th Congressional District on June 7. Each Republican presidential candidate on the ballot has the opportunity to select three delegates and three alternates if they win one of California's congressional district. Cohen said he would be beholden to voting for Trump throughout several rounds of the nominating process if picked.“If we can be so lucky," he added. "I’ll do whatever is required.”

Donald Trump 
Part of the impetus for the announcement, he said, is also the recent addition of another Republican in the field earlier this month, which is forcing him to fight for every sliver of the region’s small conservative voting electorate.

In recent weeks, Cohen has criticized fellow GOP candidate Peter Kuo, a Santa Clara insurance broker who finished a surprising second in the 2014 10th State Senate District race to Democrat Bob Wieckowski, for lacking policy heft and a reliance on telling his immigrant story. Although Kuo started his campaign a bit late, he has shown the ability in the past for attracting large contributions from the South Bay’s large Asian American communities.

“If I’m going to distinguish myself in this way, I want to do it because I really believe in it,” Cohen said of support for Trump. However, he doesn’t agree with Trump every issue, including disparaging comments the candidate has made against women, his support for waterboarding and what Cohen calls Trump’s “childish behavior.” But, Cohen stands with Trump when it comes to illegal immigration, the specter of some Muslim groups trying to attack the U.S., and believes he will "end one-sided trade deals that cost U.S. jobs."

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Just Say No: Loni Hancock avoids Nancy Reagan lovefest

State Sen. Loni Hancock
STATE SENATE | 9TH DISTRICT | East Bay State Sen. Loni Hancock, like many progressives, had a difficult time holding their tongue as the national media and Republicans venerated former First Lady Nancy Reagan following her passing Mar. 6.

According to the Sacramento Bee, Hancock and San Francisco State Sen. Mark Leno headed stage-right on the Senate Floor Monday when legislators posed with members of the Reagan family.
It wasn’t the first slight issued by Hancock and Leno against the Reagan legacy in recent weeks. The Bay Area lawmakers issued discontent with former President Ronald Reagan last Feb. 25 when Senate Republicans honored him on the occasion of his birth date.

Hancock, whose Ninth District includes Berkeley, remarked, “It wasn’t just the tanks and the national guard on the streets of my community when I was much younger in the 1960s. But I look at his presidency as a time when the nation turned in a profoundly wrong direction.”

Hancock is termed out of office at the end of the year. However, with former Assemblymembers Nancy Skinner and Sandre Swanson, like Hancock, staunch progressive, as likely successors, you shouldn’t expect much love for The Gipper over the next four years.

Ray McDonald, ex-49er on trial for sexual assault, spoke to Hayward students about self-discipline; parents upset

Former 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald
HAYWARD SCHOOLS | Hayward parents are outraged that Ray McDonald, a former San Francisco 49ers defensive end who is scheduled to go on trial next month for allegedly raping an intoxicated woman, recently spoke to 250 at-risk students at Hayward’s Tennyson High School about self-discipline.

McDonald “doesn’t even know how to handle his own life,” said Hayward parent Eduardo Orozco. “I just don’t think it’s the right choice.” Orozco added that the allegations against McDonald do not send a positive message for teenage girls at Tennyson. “His record shows he doesn’t have much respect for women.”

Hayward Unified School District, however, seems proud about McDonald’s appearance. The district’s Facebook page described McDonald as “the perfect voice to help students recognize the importance of attending school daily and staying on track.” McDonald was joined at the February 25 event by a 49ers practice squad player.

“The two athlete[s] inspired students to stay focused and self-disciplined,” the Facebook post continued. “They engaged students in reflective questions about self-motivation and life distractions.”

The event was part of the school district’s Drop Out Prevention program, which is headed by Tennyson High football coach Anthony Jackson and funded by the Hayward Promise Neighborhood project, a $25 million federal program to help struggling students in South Hayward’s Jackson Triangle neighborhood. Cal State East Bay is also partner in the program.

But parents are strongly questioning the selection of McDonald as a role model for at-risk teens because of his many run-ins with the law. In August 2014, McDonald was accused by his ex-fiancée of bruising her arms and neck while she was holding their two-month-old baby. A Santa Clara County grand jury declined to indict McDonald of felony false imprisonment and domestic violence charges in that case, but did return an indictment of violating a restraining order filed by the ex-fiancée just two days after the alleged incident.

The 49ers then cut ties with McDonald after he was charged in December 2014 for alleged sexual assault of an intoxicated woman at his home in Santa Clara. In a statement, the team said it made the decision to release McDonald based on his “pattern of poor decision-making.” The Chicago Bears signed McDonald shortly thereafter, but then released him in May 2015 after he was arrested on suspicion of a domestic assault and child endangerment. Days later he was arrested again for violating a restraining order.

Some parents at Tennyson High, one of the most underperforming schools in the state, have complained to the high school’s administration and the superintendent’s office, along with school board in recent days, about McDonald’s address to students. Orozco, a parent of a Tennyson High student, said he was shocked when he saw the school district’s posting of the McDonald appearance on social media. [CONTINUE READING AT EASTBAYEXPRESS.COM]

Saturday, March 12, 2016

June primary filing deadlines passes without many surprises, but Hayward incumbent will not seek re-election

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley will face
only the well-financed Bryan Parker in June.
JUNE PRIMARY | Eight state and federal legislative races in the East Bay this June are guaranteed rematches in November; a Hayward city councilmember did not file for re-election, and a bruising one-on-one matchup between Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley and Bryan Parker is set.

The deadline for candidates filing to run in the June primary passed Friday evening with few last-minute developments. Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley will face re-election against just one challenger, former Oakland mayoral candidate Bryan Parker. Two other candidates had pulled papers for the June primary, but failed to complete their filings before the Friday deadline. A larger pool of candidates ran the risk of complicating the electoral math for Parker, his campaign believed. The June supervisorial race is not subject to the state’s top two primary voting system, only a simple majority is needed to bypass a November runoff, which is now a certainty.

The biggest race in the region, the primary battle to unseat Democratic Rep. Mike Honda in the 17th Congressional District, will unofficially include up to six challengers, including Democrats Ro Khanna and San Jose Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio. Republicans Ron Cohen, a Fremont certified public accountant and Peter Kuo are also on the ballot. Kuo, reached the general election in the 2014 state Senate race against Bob Wieckowski.

Hayward Councilmember Greg Jones did not
file for re-election.
In Hayward’s big City Council race this June that includes four open seats, incumbent Councilmember Greg Jones will not be on the ballot after just one term in office. Jones did not even pull papers for the seat. The nomination period for this at-large election is extended to Wednesday, Mar. 16 because an incumbent is not seeking re-election. The development is a positive development for former Councilmember Mark Salinas, who is seeking a return to the dais after two years out of office. Three other incumbents—Councilmember Francisco Zermeno, Al Mendall and Elisa Marquez—are now good bets for re-election.

The headlining race in the Ninth State Senate District has been set for some time. No surprises here. Former East Bay Assemblymembers Nancy Skinner and Sandre Swanson will fight for spots in the top two, along with education advocate Katherine Welch and San Pablo’s Republican Mayor Rich Kinney.

State Sen. Steve Glazer avoided a likely contentious rematch with Assemblymember Susan Bonilla, who chose against mounting a challenge after her May 2015 special election defeat. Glazer, though, will have three challengers this June. They include Guy Moore, the president of the Mount Diablo Education Assocation; real estate appraiser Joe Rubay; and Rodney Spooner, a political consultant.

Three of four congressional races and five of six assembly campaigns will feature just two candidates, one from each party. The setup, because of state's top two primary system, ensures voters will see both candidates on the November general election ballot.

Rep. Barbara Lee will face Oakland's Sue Caro
in both June and November.
Oakland's 13th Congressional District Rep. Barbara Lee, Democrat, will face former Alameda County Republican Party chair Sue Caro in June; Tri Valley 15th District Rep. Eric Swalwell, also a Democrat, is matched with Danny Turner, a 29-year-old Republican from Livermore; and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier will be challenged by Republican Roger Petersen, a two-time challenger of DeSaulnier's predecessor, retired Rep. George Miller.

Eighteenth Assembly District member Rob Bonta will face Republican Roseann Slonsky-Breault for the seat representing Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro. Richmond Assemblymember Tony Thurmond will be challenged by Cal student, Claire Chiara, a Republican; and Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk will be matched up with Republican Luis Wong. In a rematch of the 2014 general election in the Fremont and Santa Clara County seat, 25th District Assemblymember Kansen Chu will face Republican Bob Brunton, a former member of the Ohlone Community College District.

In the 16th District, freshman Assemblymember Catharine Baker, the only Republican in the East Bay’s legislative caucus, will try to retain the seat for the GOP against a challenge from Democrat Cheryl Cook-Kallio, a former Pleasanton councilmember.

In the lone Assembly race without an incumbent four candidates are expected to vie for Bonilla’s termed out seat in the 14th District. They include Democrats Mae Torlakson, the wife of state superintendent of schools Tom Torlakson; Concord Mayor Tim Grayson; Republican Debora Allen; and clinical psychologist Dr. Harmesh Kumar.

The streak continues: Alameda County Supervisor
Scott Haggerty is again running unopposed.
In Alameda County, two incumbents from the Board of Supervisors will run unopposed this June—Supervisors Scott Haggerty and Keith Carson. For Haggerty, it continues a streak of some sorts. He has never faced a re-election challenge since winning the seat in 1996.

In addition, two Alameda County Board of Education members—Fred Sims and Eileen McDonald—attracted no competition. Neither race will be on the June ballot and each will win another four years on the board. The same cannot be said of two other incumbents. Trustee Marlon McWilson will face Oakland businesswoman Amber Childress; and Trustee Ken Berrick will be challenged by Randy Menjivar. In both cases, a simple majority of voters is needed to avoid a November runoff.

In possibly a first, three Alameda County Superior Court judgeships are available this June. And because each race features an incumbent not seeking re-election, the nominating period is extended to Mar. 16. Piedmont Mayor Margaret Fujioka is currently the lone candidate for one office. In another, candidates who have completed their filings include former Alameda Councilmember Barbara Thomas and San Mateo Deputy Mayor David Lim. A candidate for superior court judge does not need to live in the county to serve. In the third available judgeship, two candidates have pulled papers, but have not yet finished their filings.