Friday, October 28, 2016

EBCampaign: Swanson commits 'political catfishing'; Khanna invited Hillary to his wedding; Cook-Kallio gets high on pot $$

12 DAYS UNTIL ELECTION DAY | Sometimes the Internet is not what it seems. For some, the person one perceives on the other end of an online interaction is not who they are in real life. It's not uncommon for, say a man, to fall in love with a person online without ever seeing them in the flesh, only to learn later it was another man posing as an interested woman. This is known as "catfishing."

In the Ninth State Senate District, Sandre Swanson is pulling a similar trick with collection of campaign photos used in regular rotation that may be more than five years old. Call it "political catfishing,"

The array of campaign photos used by the Swanson campaign appear to be high-quality. A pair appears to show Swanson speaking during his bygone days in the Assembly. A few others are de rigueur campaign poses, like one of Swanson posing with school children while they use a computer. Notice the computers in the photo are a bit dated.

A campaign mailer sent this week by Sandre
Swanson's state Senate campaign.
But, while the campaign's use of old photos may appear cosmetic, they have meaning and may be covering up what is Swanson's inherent disadvantage in the race against Nancy Skinner--his physical frailty.

Since he underwent surgery on his spine three years ago, Swanson has been noticeably immobile, even back to his time serving in Oakland Mayor Jean Quan's administration. On the campaign trail, Swanson often slowly ambles to an awaiting chair while using two canes. There's nothing wrong with Swanson between the ears. His rhetoric has been equal parts uplifting, energetic and inspiring.

However, in a highly-competitive race against a well-known and well-financed opponent, Swanson's inability to pound the pavement and hustle votes is a great problem for his campaign. An army of volunteers can canvass neighborhood all over the district, but nothing cements the vote like having the actual candidate press the flesh and personally ask for their support.

Ro Khanna with future wife Ritu Ahuja at the
campaign's kickoff event in August 2015.
HILLARY'S WEDDING INVITE Another round of WikiLeaks emails belonging to John Podesta revealed the campaign 17th District Congressional District candidate Ro Khanna sought the presence of Hillary Clinton at his wedding in Cleveland last fall. Khanna's campaign co-chair Steve Spinner, a prolific Democratic Party fundraiser, emailed Podesta on Aug. 12, 2015 and laid out the reasons why Clinton's appearance at the wedding benefited all. For one, Spinner noted, Clinton was already scheduled to be in Cleveland the same day. "I wonder if it would be possible for her to stop by the event for 10 minutes to wish the couple [sic]," wrote Spinner. Clinton's appearance would also be viewed favorably by Indian American voters and the tech community and posed no risk for injecting Clinton into the contentious South Bay congressional race, Spinner wrote. "She risks no blowback. [Rep. Mike] Honda's folks would be very petty to criticize Secretary Clinton for wishing a couple on their marriage, particularly given it will be a beautiful ethnic ceremony." Spinner's close relationship with President Obama and Clinton is clear, but his emails to Podesta, at least, those posted by WikiLeaks, failed to garner much benefit to Khanna's campaign. A previously posted email from Spinner asked for Clinton's endorsement of Khanna. That never happened, but then again, Obama never issued an endorsement this year for Honda, as he did in the 2014 race.

POT MONEY IN AD16 Oakland cannabis interests are hosting a fundraiser next week for 16th Assembly District challenger Cheryl Cook-Kallio. Oakland attorney Robert Raich, who specializes in medical cannabis law, along with Dan Grace, the owner of Dark Heart Nursery, is hosting the event. Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta is also a featured guest at the event asking a top price of $4,200 a person. The late fundraiser is undoubtedly part of the Assembly Democratic leaderships strong push to help Cook-Kallio unseat Republican East Bay Assemblymember Catharine Baker while raising the odds the party can achieve a two-thirds majority. But how will moderate and conservative voters in the district representing places like Walnut Creek and Pleasanton feel about cannabis money flowing to Cook-Kallio? That's unclear, but it didn't seem to hurt Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley last June when he trounced Bryan Parker. In that race, which includes just the Alameda County portion of the 16th District, Miley's campaign was largely fueled by contributions from the cannabis industry.

State Sen. Steve Glazer opposes BART's Measure
RR infrastructure bond.
GLAZERITES UNITE Public transit strikes are still a hulking issue in Contra Costa County and the Outer East Bay. Seventh District State Sen.Steve Glazer used the issue to win last year's special election and when it comes to candidates this fall for the BART Board of Directors, he is something of a pied piper. On Thursday, Glazer, along with three who are challenging incumbents, held a press conference at the Lafayette BART station to rail against BART strikes and to voice disapproval of Measure RR, BART's $3.5 billion infrastructure improvement bond also on the ballot Nov. 8. Glazer says he won't vote for Measure RR, KPIX reported Glazer's rationale on Wednesday. ”They’ve negotiated five separate contracts, given excessive raises to managers and workers, and now they say ‘gun to the head’ you must approve RR.” In the meantime, whether any of Glazer's band of contrarians strike pay dirt on Election Day is not likely.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

CA17: Newsom rallies Khanna supporters

Ro Khanna and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom at a
campaign rally in Cupertino Thursday.
Ro Khanna’s first run for Rep. Mike Honda’s seat three years ago began at De Anza College. His final sprint toward Election Day this time around returned to the same quad, with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom in tow.

With intermittent drizzle falling in Cupertino, Newsom offered a short stump speech in support of Khanna, calling him the “personification of the word 'leader.'”

“I’m here as a fan. I’m here as a supporter,” said Newsom. “I’m here as someone desperate to see this region get the kind of leadership it deserves. To see someone shake things up in Washington D.C. and see someone that speaks the language of technology—understands we’re living in a world where the whitewaters of change are all around us.”

Congress, of course, is not exactly the most admired segment of government. Newsom, however, said, “We are the problems in Washington, D.C., but we’re also the antidote to those problems. We’re the solutions to those problems if we change behaviors and the spirit of this campaign is change,” he said.

With 12 days until Election Day, Khanna said he’s confident. “I think we’re going to win,” he said.

When asked about the high-profile contrast between Newsom’s appearance Thursday afternoon and Honda’s get-out-the vote event this week featuring actor Danny Glover, Khanna said, “If you want to go back to the 80’s, vote for Mike Honda. If you want to go with Gavin and the future, you vote for me.”

Khanna also shrugged off concern over the Honda lawsuit alleging cyber theft of its confidential fundraising data. “I’m not worried about it, at all," he said.

SD9 PREVIEW: An embarrassment of riches for East Bay progressives

Former East Bay Assemblymembers Nancy Skinner and Sandre Swanson are vying for the Ninth State Senate District seat this November.
MEET THE CANDIDATES Many enjoy bagging on Oakland politics, but every two years the city and surrounding areas produce some of the best candidates in the East Bay. It’s no surprise that its race for the open Ninth State Senate District seat would be any different. Former Assemblymember NANCY SKINNER represented Berkeley to Richmond for six years before being termed out in 2014. Her progressive credentials are unquestioned. As a legislator she was a thorn in the side of corporations such as Chevron and Amazon and in her final years authored some of the most stringent gun control bills in the state… SANDRE SWANSON is also a former Assemblymember who represented roughly the other half of the sprawling senate district. He also served six years before being termed out in 2012. Afterward, he served as Oakland’s deputy mayor under Jean Quan. His time in Sacramento included a focus on punishing sex traffickers and solving inequities in minority communities across the state.

WHAT’S THE BEEF? Both are unabashedly progressive, make no mistake about it. If elected, either will immediately become one of the most progressive members of the 40-person state Senate. But that’s not an issue in this race that includes areas from Richmond to Oakland, and including Berkeley, Alameda and San Leandro. Without a doubt, Skinner and Swanson’s ideology dovetails nicely with the district. The issue, however, has been which candidates leans the most unwavering to the left? At least, that’s the argument Swanson has been trying to make for more than the last year. It led to Skinner describing herself as an “operational progressive,” essentially, a pragmatist. Later she characterized herself as a “progressive who gets things done.” It remains to be seen whether Swanson’s argument will fly with voters in November, because it didn’t in June when he lost to Skinner by nearly 18 points. Swanson has continued to focus his stump speech on the infamous removal from his Assembly committee chairmanship during the contentious 2009 budget battles. Swanson refused to budge from the Assembly speaker’s demand to vote for a budget laden with deep cuts to services, children and the poor. Skinner voted for the budget bill. According to Swanson, this act shows he will stand up for progressive principles in the state Senate, no matter what. The upshot, he says, is that festering problems like the loss of redevelopment funds have been a large factor in the housing crisis the region is facing today. In the end, the decision for voters appears to be a choice of Skinner, a progressive who will attempt to move the wheels of government and possibly build coalitions with moderate Democrats, or Swanson, someone who flies the flag of progressives at all times.

2016 JUNE PRIMARY.........................VOTES....PCT
Nancy Skinner (D)........................115102   48.0%
Sandre Swanson (D)........................73349   30.6%
Katherine Welch (D).......................31627   13.2%
Rich Kinney (R)...........................19967    8.3%

2012 GENERAL ELECTION.....................VOTES....PCT
Loni Hancock (D).........................231484   85.7%
Mary McIlroy (PF).........................38512   14.3%

         ----JULY-SEPT 24----     ----2016----
SD9           IN      OUT         IN     OUT       CASH
SKINNER  241,606  170,822    545,527 683,081 $  988,812
SWANSON*  70,000  111,518    368,888 496,127 $    8,404
*TOTAL COVERS Sept. 25-Oct.22.

OUTLOOK Swanson supporter's main talking point for November is the electorate will be far different in November than in June when Skinner steamrolled Swanson and the rest of the field. Sure, turnout will be far greater on Nov. 8, but the argument probably doesn’t hold water in this race. This is a race between two progressives in one of the bluest regions in the country. Think about it: Primary voters typically make up each party’s base. In this case, the left’s base in the Ninth District overwhelmingly chose Skinner and Swanson has done little to attract voters who backed the moderate Democrat Katherine Welch in the primary or Republican Rich Kinney, who incidentally later endorsed Swanson. Then there’s the large fundraising advantage Skinner has owned since the beginning of the race. It was so awesome that it gave Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan second thoughts about running. She later dropped out a year ago. In addition, Skinner has virtually cruised along the whole race without a hitch, although, some in Oakland are voicing displeasure over Skinner accepting campaign contributions from the Oakland Police Officers Association. Being the choice of Oakland cops is not exactly a popular endorsement these days. Then again, Swanson’s campaign hasn’t really made much of that small uproar, either. In the end, its quite possible the notion held by many that both candidates are more than desirable for the district is pigeon-holing Swanson. If both of them are good, then why should voters back the guy trailing by 18 points in the primary? Swanson articulating why they should vote for him, but all things equal, he also never told voters why they shouldn’t vote for Skinner.

Blockbuster endorsement: President Obama backs East Bay Assembly candidate Cheryl Cook-Kallio

President Obama endorsed just three California
legislative candidates, including the East Bay's
Cheryl Cook-Kallio in AD16.
In a surprising, somewhat unprecedented move, President Barack Obama has endorsed 16th Assembly District Democrat Cheryl Cook-Kallio.

The endorsement signals Assembly Democrats are throwing everything at their disposal to secure the two-thirds majority they desire next session. Cook-Kallio was one of three legislative candidates in the state Thursday to receive the President’s valuable support.

“I’m incredibly honored to have the support of President Obama,” said Cook-Kallio, in a statement. “I’ve been campaigning to increase access for women to quality healthcare and to make fighting climate change a top priority, and I’m proud to have the President endorse my campaign.”

Democratic assembly candidate Cheryl Cook-Kallio
is facing incumbent Catharine Baker on Nov. 8.
In recent weeks, Obama has focused his last months in office on supporting Democrats up and down the ballot in various states. A few days prior, Obama announced the endorsement of around 150 Democrats in targeted congressional races across the country.

Two weeks ago, Cook-Kallio received another high-profile endorsement from popular Gov. Jerry Brown.

The incumbent Republican Catharine Baker has nobody on the top of the GOP ticket to rely upon. Her campaign disawoed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump months ago and Republcians hold no statewide offices.

SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL PREVIEW: Slim pickings across the board

Bryan Azevedo and Ed Hernandez face-off in the San Leandro City Council's District 2--the only contested race of three open seats this fall.
In San Leandro, just four candidates filed for three seats this fall. But it gets worse. Two of the races involved termed out councilmembers--Jim Prola and Ursula Reed. Be it apathy in San Leandro or a sense the city is on a distinct upward trend, only Reed's District 2 seat is contested this election cycle. BRYAN AZEVEDO is a member of the San Leandro Recreation and Parks Commission, but his labor ties define him. Azevedo is a union steel worker. Unsurprisingly, his campaign finance reports are lardered with a great deal of union money. "If you support me, you're going to get a fighter," said Azevedo... During the race's rather late initial forum on Oct. 6, San Leandro planning commissioner ED HERNANDEZ exclaimed. "It's good time to be a San Leandran." In contrast to his opponent, Hernandez draws support from San Leandro's business community. These ties are one reason why most the political endorsements have gone to Azevedo... In the uncontested races, District 4 Councilmember BENNY LEE will return for another four years. As the city's first Asian American councilmember, he thrived in his first term. He also proved to be a consistent and strong advocate for San Leandro's growing Asian American community. Sure, there was that People's Republic of China flag flap, but his measured approach to deliberations seemed to bring balance to the council... PETE BALLEW is a retired San Leandro Police lieutenant. After nobody else filed to run for Prola's termed out seat, Ballew automatically won the seat. The city's public safety officers have funded his campaign, along with more than a hint of union support. Ballew is a bit of an unknown going forward with the next council...In addition, like Oakland and Berkeley, San Leandro uses ranked-choice voting, but since none of the three races have more than two candidates, it's not a factor this election cycle.

WHAT'S THE BEEF? Overall, there's not many differences between Azevedo and Hernandez, according to their campaign platforms. What distinguishes them, though, is their styles and the groups supporting their respective campaigns. Both have voiced strong support for public safety. Azevedo, however, said he supported the formation of an independent citizen's police commission. "I'm going to hold them accountable," Azevedo said of the San Leandro Police, "and praise them when they succeed." They also agree housing and rising rents are the city's most pressing challenges. Ditto with medical cannabis dispensaries, which will soon total three in San Leandro. "Three is fair," said Hernandez, although he added, "I'll work with police to keep kids away from cannabis." Azevedo believes more competition among the dispensaries will eventually lower the price for ailing customers. However, the most glaring difference between the candidates is superficial. Azevedo's first appearance in a forum was a disaster. He appeared unprepared and his thoughts without focus. Conversely, Hernandez was far more polished and expansive with his answers. In fact, the lack of candidate forums and, therefore, chances for Hernandez to illustrate this head-to-head advantage is a lost opportunity for him.

2012 GENERAL ELECTION.....................VOTES....PCT
Ursula Reed...............................10707   42.2%
Morgan Mack-Rose.......................... 9649   38.0%
Dan Dillman............................... 4809   19.0%

Benny Lee.................................10244   44.2%
Chris Crow................................ 5671   24.4%
Darlene Daevu............................. 4633   20.0%
Justin Hutchison.......................... 2426   10.5%

Jim Prola.................................12841   54.4%
Hermy Almonte.............................10517   44.5%

         ----JULY-SEPT 24----     ----2016----
DIST 2        IN      OUT         IN     OUT       CASH
AZEVEDO*  19,625      934     21,125     934 $   29,290
HERNANDEZ  4,065   11,446     19,604  22,024 $    2,679

DIST 4        IN      OUT         IN     OUT       CASH
LEE          500    2,280     13,631   5,968 $   40,030

DIST 6        IN      OUT         IN     OUT       CASH
BALLEW*   27,105    5,097     37,105   5.097 $   38,707
*through June 30.

OUTLOOK Few in San Leandro appear to have qualms with the path the city has taken in recent years. Punctuated by the recent unveiling of the "Truth is Beauty" statue near the San Leandro BART station, the city is feeling good about itself. It parlayed its renowned downtown fiber-optics loop into attracting high-tech industrial companies and others businesses to town. Social issues are still percolating under the surface and the City Council dropped the ball on better protecting worried renters. But the San Leandro City Council has become more progressive in the past two years and the tipping point may have been first-term Councilmember Lee Thomas's surprising moves to the left on many issues. He's San Leandro's David Souter in some ways after running as a moderate, he's surprised many, especially with his flip-flop in favor of dispensaries. What this election represents, though, is a referendum on whether the current progressive shift makes it through to 2017. Losing Prola, the council's most progressive member, to term limits and replacing him with Ballew will likely flip that seat. Therefore, Azevedo represents the only chance for maintaining the status quo. In effect, progressives would switch District 6 for District 2, if Azevedo succeeds. And despite Azevedo's clear inexperience as a candidate, there's a reason why labor and the Democratic Party is solidly behind his campaign. They simply don't trust Hernandez--for whatever reason--whether its personal or due to the circle of business interests he runs with. Further down the road, rumors are abound that Lee is interested in challenging Mayor Pauline Cutter in 2018. Without having to wage on re-election campaign, Lee already has $40,000 head start in cash on hand.  With San Leandro's changing demographics and a successful first four years in office, Lee could be a force.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

FREMONT MAYOR PREVIEW: Councilmember mounts a mayoral challenge to the status quo

Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison is facing a challenge from first-term Councilmember Lily Mei.
Fremont Mayor BILL HARRISON was elected four years ago in a tough three-way race with Republican Steve Cho and his then-City Council colleague Anu Natarajan. The choices fractured the electorate in three-ways with Harrison coming out on top. Economic growth over the past four years has been Harrison's top reason for re-election, including the remaking of Fremont's downtown. The Warm Spring BART station is also due to open soon giving the city's further opportunities to improve its transit-oriented developments. LILY MEI, a current councilmember elected in 2014, said "I believe Fremont needs a change." Her platform has raised quality of life issues that persist in Fremont, including the claim that traffic has never been "as bad as it is now." Her platform has struck a chord. Previously, as a former Fremont school board member, Mei controversially rejected the book "Bastard Out of Carolina" from the school district's curriculum, citing the novel's explicit content.

WHAT'S THE BEEF? The regional housing crisis is hitting Fremont hard. "I'm a champion for all types of affordable housing," said Harrison, during a forum in September. He supports Measure A1, the Alameda County $580 million affordable housing bond initiative. Mei does not, but only because she believes Fremont's portion of the bond's benefits was not sufficient and "wanted to ensure Fremont gets the best deal possible," said Mei. But during the same forum, Harrison pushed back, saying the city's portion of the housing bond can be leveraged for additional state and federal grants for affordable housing. An offshoot of the housing crisis is rising rents. Both said they support rent stabilization legislation in Fremont, but offer few specifics. Borne out of the housing discussion has been a focus on campaign contributions from developers, an issue primarily raised by Mei against Harrison.

2012 GENERAL ELECTION.....................VOTES....PCT
Bill Harrison.............................22121   34.0%
Steve Cho.................................20709   31.9%
Anu Natarajan.............................16995   26.1%
Aziz Akbari............................... 3677    5.7%
Linda Susoev.............................. 1408    2.2%

         ----JULY-SEPT 24----     ----2016----
FRE MAYOR     IN      OUT         IN     OUT       CASH
HARRISON  49,814   22,831     82,419  24,213    $71,905
MEI       38,098   23,933     38,098  23,933    $14,165

OUTLOOK Aside from Harrison's somewhat controversial snagging of the Alameda County Democratic Party endorsement four years ago, the biggest factor in his 2012 victory was the mayoral candidacy of Cho, Fremont's Republican standard-bearer. Cho seriously split Fremont's minority-majority of voters and handed the mayor's office to Harrison. This time around Harrison is facing a more conventional one-on-one matchup with Mei. However, her campaign naturally skews toward the constituency that favored Cho four years ago (Cho endorsed Mei for mayor) and may not be able to attract Natarajan's base of Democrats, along with those satisfied with the economic gains made in Fremont. If this race is tight on Election Day, it might be due to the shrewd argument being made by Mei that links Harrison's stance on growth to his campaign contributions from developers. Mei's basic stump speech always includes her opposition to receiving campaign money from developers. The issue appeared to knock Harrison on his heels during the September forum, when in response to a question, he refused a pledge against accepting developer's contributions. The large audience snickered and guffawed and the scene appeared to greatly bothered Harrison, while revealing a highly vulnerable spot in his argument for re-election. Alameda County Democratic Party insiders from south county say this race has been bitter and envision a close victory for Harrison. Keep in mind, Harrison's politics are on the moderate side of the East Bay progressive spectrum. But so is Fremont, in general. A Mei victory, however, will likely shift the City Council in a rightward direction. And then there's the always contentious search to appoint a replacement for the rest of her council term.

Whites powering Alameda council candidate's campaign

Alameda council candidate Jennifer Roloff
placed this ad in the local weekly last week.
Last summer, Republican Speaker Paul Ryan triumphantly tweeted a selfie celebrating the outgoing class of House interns. Rows and rows of white faces smiled back in photo later widely derided for its lack of diversity.

Readers of the Alameda Sun last week were greeted by a similarly telling photo. This time, an newspaper advertisement for Alameda City Council candidate Jennifer Roloff featuring dozens of her supporters, but save for possibly one person, entirely older, white Alamedans. The half-page ad includes the tagline, "Progress+Preservation."

But the ad might not even be the most alarming moment in Roloff's first-time campaign. In August, Roloff raised many eyebrows when she told members of the Alameda Democratic Club that she supported militarizing Alameda's police force.

In response to the question "Do you know what military equipment we’ve purchase?" she portrayed the atmosphere outside of Alameda in dangerous terms.

"I think it’s very relevant to what is going on in neighboring cities. I think we’re fortunate enough to not have an exacerbated, similar situation, but I do think that we need to partner with out neighboring communities to make sure that we’re cognizant of the risks that could come to the city and being prepared for such issues. I think that Alamedans don’t have to feel the protection of the police yet, but what’s going on out there, I think we need to start getting prepared. We should work with our public safety to get better prepared for what could happen," said Roloff.

“As far as the equipment, I do know that Alameda has its own equipment and we do end up lending it out to nearby cities. But I do think we should work with those nearby cities so we can capitalize on the equipment they have to have as much preparedness as possible.”

Roloff later backtracked from the statement in an letter to a local newspaper.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Hayward school board candidate takes a nap during important public meeting

Rip Van Winkle: Hayward school board candidate
Robert Carlson caught napping at a special board
meeting Monday evening.
New school construction and improvements to Hayward athletic facilities are more than $35 million over budget, the school district reported during a special meeting Monday.

The update on the status of the school bond measure passed two years ago is sobering news. But not enough for one school board candidate to stay awake during the meeting.

Robert Carlson, the former Chabot College president running for the school board under the banner of Hayward CLASS, was visibly asleep for much the early evening meeting.

Those in attendance said Carlson was seen nodding off near the end of the meeting which started at 6 p.m. at the district offices and ended around 8:30 p.m.

The school board race in Hayward has been unusual. The Hayward CLASS group is a group of business and faith leaders, who along with six of the seven members of the City Council is pushing to oust the three school board incumbents up for re-election next month.

Carlson is part of a trio of candidates recruited by the group, along with Hayward planning commissioner Daniel Goldstein and Todd Davis, who also attended Monday's special meeting but left before its conclusion.

ALAMEDA CITY COUNCiL PREVIEW: A tipping point for Alameda's future

Clockwise from left: Alameda Councilmembers Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Tony Daysog; Lena Tam, Malia Vella, and Jennifer Roloff are seeking two open seats this November. 
This five-person race is led by the incumbents. Councilmember MARILYN EZZY ASHCRAFT was easily the leading vote-getter four years ago with nearly a quarter of the vote. She supports smart growth at Alameda Point and has been proactive on the rents issue. However, her fingerprints are all over the City Council's rent ordinance passed in March and has continued her support for the resulting Measure L1 initiative... Perhaps, no other candidate has more experience in Alameda politics than Councilmember TONY DAYSOG. He served on the council for 10 years starting in 1996 and returned to the dais in 2012. Along the way, he's run unsuccessfully for mayor and Congress. Conversely, he also a long record for opponents to pick at, including whether he is even a Democrat anymore. In general, Daysog's record has shown support for small business. His redundant mantra during the rent ordinance discussion for protecting "mom-and-pop small businesses" was like an earworm for council watchers in Alameda... LENA TAM is back. The former councilmember was termed out in 2014 and lost a bid that same year for the BART board of directors. Tam once claimed the support of the island's firefighters and East Bay labor, in general, but not anymore. The New Tam is backed by Asian American business interests. MALIA VELLA is a labor attorney and Mills College adjunct professor. She also served as Assemblymember Bill Quirk's district director and is well-known among Alameda County Democrats. The latter a good reason why her campaign is so well-financed. A newcomer to politics, JENNIFER ROLOFF is perhaps the most conservative of the five candidates. Well spoken, although prone to some rookie gaffes, she represents the anti-growth constituency in Alameda that is led by Mayor Trish Spencer.

WHAT'S THE BEEF? Four years ago, Alameda's City Council race was all about the continuing conversation of redeveloping the former Naval air station. How to proceed with Alameda Point has morphed into development all over the island. The argument to limit development for the sake of rising traffic concerns has been used in this race by Roloff and to some extent Daysog and Tam. This issue is traditionally the breaking point between so-called "Old Alameda" and the progressives who support growth. Now this issue had been folded into the current discussion over rising rents and displacement of Alameda residents. Each group has dutifully taken their correct side of the battle. Old Alamedans decry rent control and say it will hurt property owners, lower the quality of the housing stock and become another costly city bureaucracy. Those like Vella, and to a lesser extent, Ashcraft, have been supportive of a different path. If a lack of supply is the overriding problem leading to rising rents, then development is a solution, they argue. Vella, though, is the only candidate firmly on Measure M1's side, the initiative that limits annual rent increases to just under two percent; prohibits no cause evictions and creates an elected rent board. The other four candidates have advocated tepid support for Measure L1, the council's less stringent rent ordinance that is already law. What each would do to "fix" the current rent ordinance to their liking is unclear.

2012 GENERAL ELECTION.....................VOTES....PCT
Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft.....................12116   24.9%
Tony Daysog............................... 8701   17.9%
Stewart Chen.............................. 8588   17.8%
Jeff Cambra............................... 7579   15.6%
Jane Sullwold............................. 6134   12.6%
Gerard Valbuena Dumuk..................... 2919    6.0%
Joana Darc Weber.......................... 2473    5.1% 

         ----JULY-SEPT 24----     ----2016----
ALAMEDA CC    IN      OUT         IN     OUT       CASH
VELLA     10,114    7,633     44,067   8,033 $   36,138
ASHCRAFT   9,093   13,576     24,605  15,384 $   12,204
TAM       20,512    9,433     20,512  13,410 $   11,945
ROLOFF     4,423    2,335      5,270   2,682 $    5,087
DAYSOG     5,872    5,673      5,872   5,673 $      199

OUTLOOK Over the past six years the power of Alameda's firefighters union has been immeasurable. More often than not, the public safety union's support has equaled victory. This year, fire is supporting Ashcraft and Vella for the two seats. It's no coincidence that both are also running the most well-financed campaigns in the race. That coupled with Alamedans United, the firefighters independent expenditure committee, and the likelihood of both candidates winning is good. But not great. That's because one of the few candidates who has been able to break through the firefighters' blockade is Daysog. Likely because he is so well known in Alameda, as is Tam, by the way. It's probably why the firefighters have focused their expenditures on undermining Daysog with two negative mailers. One portrays him as voting against the interests of seniors and the other tweaking him for his wavering comments about whether he is now a Republican. And Roloff, although excessively green, is a wildcard. Her yard signs are all over Alameda, but she is without a doubt the candidate for "Old Alameda." This election will show whether that group is a still somewhat of a force or a dwindling demographic. The "Old Alameda" candidate four years ago was Jane Sullwold and she finish fifth with 12.6 percent of the vote. More likely than not, the outcome of this race may be tied directly to the fate of Measures L1 and M1, the pair of rent control initiatives on the ballot. If the purer version of rent control, Measure M1, wins, Ashcraft and Vella will, too. If not, any combination of the five candidates could prevail.

Monday, October 24, 2016

AD 16 PREVIEW: The Passive-Aggressive Assembly Race

Assemblymember Catharine Baker and former Pleasanton Councilmember Cheryl Cook-Kallio in the race to represent parts of Contra Costa County and the Tri Valley in the Assembly's 16th District.
MEET THE CANDIDATES Assemblymember CATHARINE BAKER just sort of fell from the sky two years ago and gave the region's Republican Party a reason to thank their lucky stars. The freshman GOP lawmaker also settled in quite quickly in Sacramento. Baker, A former Pleasanton attorney, Baker was given a modicum of leeway in voting outside of the GOP's box on a few high-profile issues such as the childhood vaccination controversy last year. Baker voted in favor of Senate Bill 277 while other Republicans voted no. Baker was the only Republican to vote for Senate Bill 32, the comprehensive climate-change legislation strongly favored by Gov. Jerry Brown. A recent Sacramento Bee study found Baker's voting record showed she was the Republican most likely to vote with Democrats in the Assembly. “I'll listen to any good idea regardless of the partisan label it came from and think outside the traditional box that is coming out of Sacramento,” said Baker. She also reflects the GOP's ideology for lower taxes, less regulation. CHERYL COOK-KALLIO is a former member of the Pleasanton City Council and a retired high school civic teacher. She ran for mayor in 2014 and fell short. But despite Baker's first-term record, the 16th Assembly District's composition of moderates voters and a smaller than normal registration advantage for Democrats makes this seat a perennial battleground. Assembly Democrats also realized the path toward a two-thirds majority in the Assembly runs through the Contra Costa County and Tri Valley seat. Enter Cook-Kallio who supports the party's desire to push a menu of progressive reforms to education, climate-change, and gun control, among other issues. Gov. Brown even took the step of endorsing Cook-Kallio.

WHAT THE BEEF? This should be known as the Passive-Aggressive Assembly Race. Make no mistake, this race has been vicious, albeit, it seems, with both trading barbs with a friendly smile. “I think we’ve been underserved in the 16th Assembly District,” said Cook-Kallio, who often peppers her stump speeches with references to her support from Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL). That's because Cook-Kallio has used Baker's votes against preventative care for women as a hammer since back in the June primary. And despite Baker's record of voting in favor of gun control legislation, Cook-Kallio has focused on her opponent's votes to weaken or block those bills from coming to a vote. At one forum, Cook-Kallio said, “I think we’re all smart enough to look at comprehensive gun violence prevention.” Meanwhile, it's no doubt, teachers' unions are opposed to Baker. For a second straight campaign, she has highlighted the need, she says, for eliminating teachers tenure and seniority. Consequently, teachers' unions have spent a treasure chest to defeat Baker just as they unsuccessfully attempted in 2014. Baker's onslaught against labor has continued this Fall with her opposition to public transit union strikes. In many ways, it's the issue that got Baker elected in the first place. “I do not think BART workers should have the ability to strike and keep the entire Bay Area immobile,” Baker said bluntly. She also differs with Cook-Kallio in opposing any changes to Proposition 13. But among many differences between the candidates, the defining question in this race is a push by both to portray the other as sheep in wolf's clothing. Baker's repeated pledge to foster bipartisanship in Sacramento is met with Cook-Kallio's response that Baker's moderate record is a facade hiding a rigid conservative ideology. Baker says voters don't know who Cook-Kallio really is. “I don’t fill out the secret vote promises from the special interests in Sacramento. My opponent does and refuses to show them to voters like you and me,” Baker said at one forum. In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent by both campaign, IEs and others on mailers that drive home this essential theme against each campaign.

2016 JUNE PRIMARY.........................VOTES....PCT
*Catharine Baker (R)......................70136   53.5%
Cheryl Cook-Kallio (D)....................60947   46.5%

2014 GENERAL ELECTION.....................VOTES....PCT
Catharine Baker (R)......................,68598   51.5%
Tim Sbranti (D)...........................64484   48.5%

             -JUL-SEPT24-           -2016-
AD16          IN      OUT         IN     OUT       CASH
BAKER    806,832  583,311 1,659,393 1042,337 $1,209,263
C-KALLIO 856,944  626,240 1,435,181 1026,305 $  435,834

OUTLOOK Baker represents different things to different segments of the electorate. As the only Republican in the East Bay’s legislative caucus, Baker is the lone bright light in an otherwise dismal political landscape for conservatives. Conversely, for Democrats, she is Public Enemy #1. The California Democratic Party has spent more than $1.2 million to support Cook-Kallio. That’s just the party alone with IEs spending nearly the same amount--petroleum special interests for Baker, teachers' unions for Cook-Kallio. The normally cash-strapped California GOP has even spent $800,000 on Baker’s behalf. That shows just much this seat is in play. A win for Cook-Kallio takes Assembly Democrats even closer to their desired two-thirds majority and almost unfettered control of the agenda in Sacramento. In addition to Cook-Kallio’s strong financial and institutional support, the November electorate, likely boosted by record numbers of newly-registered Democrats, presumably ready to vote for Clinton, is a big wildcard in this toss-up race. (Baker does not support Donald Trump, by the way.) But Baker has her own inherent strength, moderate voters in the district who have shown to be easily stoked by anti-BART (anti-union) rhetoric. The playbook as created by Baker and state Sen. Steve Glazer has repeatedly shown voters in this district can be energized by this issue. Throw in Glazer’s slight wrinkle of charging the labor-backed candidate with hiding their answers to confidential union questionnaires and you have a template for victory that Baker is wholeheartedly employing this Fall.

CA17 PREVIEW: Honda-Khanna rematch takes an ugly turn

Rep. Mike Honda and fellow Democrat Ro Khanna meet again for a rematch of their 2014 campaigns.

Rep. MIKE HONDA has served the South Bay since 2001. Until 2014, his path toward re-election was clear every two years until an upstart fellow Democrat fell less than four points of defeating him. One of the more liked local officials, Honda has focused on education through most of his tenure in Congress. His campaign touts bringing home millions for Silicon Valley projects, namely the BART extension to San Jose. As a young child, Honda spent time in a Japanese American internment camp and civil rights issues surrounding the LGBT community have been a consistent focus over the years. In turn, Honda's voting record is viewed as one of the most progressive in the entire Congress. After his narrow defeat in 2014, RO KHANNA quickly ramped up another attempt at unseating Honda. And the effort paid off last June after he topped the incumbent in the primary by under two points. Now, for the first time, Khanna is the frontrunner this Nov. 8 and the attacks from Honda have been consistent. Viewed by most as less progressive than Honda, especially on the fiscal front, Khanna has been able to churn out campaign donors from some of Silicon Valley's biggest hitters in technology. Khanna also champions bringing industry back to the states through technology. Khanna has been successful in attracting South Bay Republicans and moderates to his side. In general, his platform portrays himself as the logical and young heir as Silicon Valley's voice in Washington.

WHAT'S THE BEEF? For the better part of almost three years, this race had been relatively civil. In hindsight, maybe some pressure should have been let out because in just the past 30 days, the amount of bitter contention between the two campaigns has been through the roof. It started Sept. 22 when the Honda campaign changed the course and tenor of the race with a federal lawsuit claiming Khanna's campaign manager illegally accessed Honda's confidential digital donor files. Khanna was also named in the suit and the campaign manager, Brian Parvizshahi resigned the same day. Honda's campaign then began referring to Khanna as a "Russian hacker" and Khanna, himself, called Honda "an embarrassment." Currently a barrage of expensive television commercial from either side is bashing each other. The dynamic of this race is now, "Who can you trust?" Khanna continues to argue Honda's on-going House ethics investigation over an allegation made last year that the campaign commingled official and campaign work, while also creating a type of "pay-to-play" scheme for potential donors disqualifies Honda from another term. Honda's retort is a variation of a past critique that Khanna will do anything to get elected to Congress. Now, the proof is the federal lawsuit against Khanna and his campaign.

2016 JUNE PRIMARY.........................VOTES....PCT
Ro Khanna (D).............................51919  39.1%
*Mike Honda (D)...........................49720  37.4%
Peter Kuo (R).............................12205   9.2% 
Ron Cohen (R).............................10421   7.8%
Pierluigi Oliverio(D)....................  5521   4.2%
Kennita Watson (LP)....................... 3115   2.3%

2014 GENERAL ELECTION.....................VOTES....PCT
*Mike Honda(D)............................68502  51.8%
Ro Khanna (D).............................63720  48.2%


               -3RD QTR-          -2016-
CA17         IN     OUT        IN       OUT       CASH
KHANNA  444,355 326,906 3,343,014 1.816,660 $1,563,579
HONDA   509,547 612,212 2,727,069 1,987,423 $  849,008

OUTLOOK With a few weeks before Election Day, this race looks like a clear tossup. In addition, both campaigns are essentially throwing everything but the proverbial kitchen sink at each other. Honda is clearly vulnerable after narrowly losing the primary and Khanna has nothing to lose. He either wins or goes home. He can't take a third shot at Honda in two years, can he? But if Honda wins on Nov. 8 it seems increasingly likely that he retires before 2018. In that case Honda acolytes like Assemblymember Evan Low might cut in line of Khanna and others for the seat. However, the most likely scenario is that Khanna maintains the small lead he earned in June. The ethics hammer his campaign has used over the past year against Honda has been devastating. The question next month is whether Honda's cyber lawsuit has changed hearts and minds, transferring ethical doubts voters might have about Honda to Khanna. Since there have been no debates or even candidate forums during the general election campaign both camps have taking swings at each other with increasingly negative television ads. These sorts of fisticuffs might be oft-putting to undecided voters in the current poisonous atmosphere of the presidential election and possibly hurt Honda the incumbent more than Khanna, the political outsider. Also keep in an eye on Democrats who lean far right coming out to vote in large numbers. They skew toward Honda and in a close race any slight variation from the norm could swing this election either way.

Saturday, October 22, 2016


Alameda City Council candidate Malia Vella.
1. Alameda City Council candidate Malia Vella is by far the most impressive non-incumbent running in any race in the East Bay this November. Her election could be the beginning of a long and successful political career. First, there was Rob Bonta. Now possibly another upwardly mobile politician in Vella coming from Alameda within four years time? Makes you wonder what’s in the water surrounding Alameda?

2. It's not a personal knock, but Alameda's Trish Spencer is easily the worst mayor in Alameda County. Nobody comes close and Spencer diehards are totally oblivious to how poor her reputation is outside Alameda city limits. I mention this because Alameda City Council candidate Jennifer Roloff is a Spencer clone and one has already done enough damage and two might be devastating. Roloff's newspaper ad featuring dozens of older white folks and one minority is appalling and a relic of an Alameda that is nearing a second foot in the grave.

3. I think all of the five Oakland City Council incumbents will win on Nov. 8. But Oakland Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney won't be the council president next year.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf
4. I think Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s support for some councilmember's opponents is not wise. If you’re Schaaf, you can’t be going around wasting your hard-earned political capital on long-shot council candidates. It’s absolutely crazy and only makes her life more miserable after Election Day because she still has to work with these people for at least another two years.

5. Rarely have I a seen a candidate less prepared to run for office but with more institutional support than San Leandro City Council candidate Bryan Azevedo. The unions strongly back Azevedo as does the Alameda County Democratic Party. His performance at a forum Oct. 6 was cringe-worthy, but for progressives he says all the right things and appears trustworthy. If he is victorious, you have to wonder how long it will take him to grasp even the basics of city government.

6. I think 16th District Assemblymember Catharine Baker’s campaign has been shaky. Maybe they’re feeling the sheer power of the powerful California State Democratic Party? Baker appeared far more confident facing Tim Sbranti two years ago. Yet, despite this, voters in the Tri Valley and Walnut Creek areas are more conservative than they like to say. This electorate still talks about BART strikes like they happened two hours ago and hates unions. Their suspicions about Democrat Cheryl Cook-Kallio and her ties to unions is a difference-maker.

7. I think if Cook-Kallio loses by a slim margin, she might seek a rematch in 2018. That is, if Assembly Democrats foot the bill again.

Ro Khanna
8. Ro Khanna in the 17th Congressional District reminds me of Berkeley mayoral candidate Jesse Arreguin, good people who decided at some point they would do or say anything to get elected. Khanna has been linked to too many campaign shenanigans over the past three years to believe he’s innocent. Arreguin simply says the most outright lies about his record as a Berkeley councilmembers. This isn’t who these people are, but if elected; will they revert to their core beliefs?

9. I can see Khanna winning and if he does he won't vote like a true progressive. He'll be just like Rep. Eric Swalwell in the nearby 15th District--a lapdog for Nancy Pelosi. It will be difficult for Rep. Mike Honda to roll back the June result that favored Khanna. High turnout of all these newly registered and young Democrats is Honda's ace-in-the-hole since polling has shown they favor him over the moderate Khanna.

10. Obviously, Ellen Corbett is over-qualified to be on the East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors, but I don't think she'll be there very long. Where else might she land? There's a couple of different places...

11. Read this treatise on the Hayward election

Captain Millennial? Rep. Eric Swalwell.
12. I think media outlets locally and nationally should dispense with the hackneyed description of Swalwell as an avatar of “millennial” voters because he's not. Tell me what segment of millenials believes in maintaining the overwhelming power of law enforcement in this country and how many young people support the government keeping digital tabs on Americans? Yet, this is what Swalwell’s nearly four-year record in Congress represents. Do a little work on his background, will ya?

13. Swalwell should actually be sad about how he is portrayed in the media. The only distinguishing fact about Swalwell is that he uses Twitter and posts pictures on Facebook? That’s impressive, bro. GTFO. LOL.

14. I think Sandre Swanson would represent the very progressive State Senate Ninth District better than Nancy Skinner. You need to realize that our brand of progressive ideology is so pure that it typically gets soiled in Sacramento by non-East Bay legislators. We need that purity in Sacramento.

15. But I think in this race, the voters cannot lose. Skinner most likely will grab a prime committee seat and get the job done, jamming the dirty carcass of government into that meat grinder, turning legislation into delicious sausage links.

Rep. Barbara Lee and Asm. Rob Bonta may lead
the East Bay's Great Reshuffling of 2017.
16. I think there's a possibility next year of a sequel to the East Bay's Great Reshuffling of 1998 when Rep. Ron Dellums left Congress and Barbara Lee was appointed to his seat. (I've always wanted to make a documentary about this 18-month period in local history.) The mid-year move reverberated down the political stream. It only takes one move near the top to start a chain reaction.

17. The future of the Alameda County Republican Party is incumbent on this screwy outfit figuring out how to keep talented prospects like the young 15th Assembly District candidate Claire Chiara engaged in local politics. Thoughtful and poised, Chiara has been one of the revelations of this fall election season in the East Bay. What they cannot let her do is shoot too high, too soon. However, way too many local GOPers are too shortsighted to realize their bench needs to be stocked at lower offices, not a fruitless runs for Congress.

18. Alameda County Superior Court judicial candidate Barbara Thomas is bat shit crazy. I wouldn't let her judge a dog show.

19. While on that subject, I think we should rid ourselves of voting for Superior Court judges. What's the point? The State Bar prohibits them from running campaigns that distinguish the candidates, so how do we know who we're voting for? Also, Alameda should abolish the city treasurer and auditor positions as elected positions. These guys don't do anything that requires an elected office. They probably work three weeks a year.

Rent control, along with increasing the minimum
wage, is the defining issue of our time.
20. Lastly, I believe voters all over the Bay Area and specifically in Alameda, must pass rent control. In fact, I endorse the Alameda Renters Coalition’s Measure M1 rent control initiative. It’s the first time in the nearly seven-year history of the East Bay Citizen that I have officially endorsed a candidate or ballot initiative. The issue of rising rents and the sheer greed of landlords of every ilk cuts to the core of what this web site represents. The East Bay Citizen fights for the people, not public officials and certainly not business interests. Specifically, its prime objective is to motivate residents of the East Bay to question government and punish those you undermine the will of the people. The success of the Alameda Renters Coalition in fomenting residents to push city government to act on sky-rocketing rents in Alameda is breathtaking. They steamrolled decades of entrenched political and business entities and then placed their own rent control initiatives on the ballot when the City Council’s ordinances went nowhere close enough to solve the problem. That’s truly government by the people. Consequently, the powers-that-be in Alameda ran in fear and actually decided to support the opposing Measure L1, which represented what they initially opposed over a year ago. And pay no mind to the estimated $3.7 million cost of creating a new bureaucracy for Measure M1. It's bogus. But, regardless of the price, its something that needs to be done and speak to the priorities of this community--we care for the weakest. People are overworked and over-stressed, Measure M1 bring a bit of solace to renters, but also provides a very powerful precedent that when the public rallies in its own self-interests, the politicians will run for the hills, or, in this case high-tail in their cars for the High Street Bridge. Vote Yes on M1 and No on L1.