Thursday, August 31, 2017

EBC AGENDA | SEPT 1-7 | ALAMEDA to end dispensary moratorium, selects just cause elex date; SAN LEANDRO tenant relocation $$; Piedmont rages

As far as the dreaded August council recess period goes this was awful. Nothing much happened because the players in politics took some time to relax. Many went of vacations, near and far. I even saw one Oakland councilmember on my own vacation earlier this month.

But those on a staycation in the East Bay raised their collective eyebrows when an Alameda County sheriff's deputy in charge of the department's Twitter feed says he accidentally retweeted a video from a well-known neo-nazi. Protesters again rallied in Berkeley

Assemblymember Bill Quirk's criminalization of mylar balloons got popped by the governor and Assemblymember Rob Bonta's big push for bail reform might have to wait until next year, but state help to build more affordable housing looks to be on the way.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Pressure builds on Piedmont elected official to resign over offensive social media comments

The Piedmont City Council says Jeff Wieler, who stepped down as mayor last Sunday, should also resign as a councilmember.

Wieler resigned earlier this week after a number of Piedmont residents became upset over a series of derogatory social media comments he made recently against Black Lives Matter and members of the transgender community, among subjects

The comments, since deleted by Wieler, were nonetheless read into the record by a Piedmont residents during a council meeting on Aug. 21.

Berkeley councilman becomes ninth to file for Tony Thurmond's open assembly seat

Berkeley Councilmember Ben Bartlett
They're going to need a really big table for debates next year in the 15th Assembly District. First-term Berkeley Councilmember Ben Bartlett filed an intent to run Tuesday for the seat being vacated by current Assemblymember Tony Thurmond. Bartlett becomes the ninth candidate--all Democrats--to file for the June 2018 primary election.

Bartlett's interest in the state assembly comes just 10 months after winning election to Berkeley's District 3 council seat, but believes he has accomplished a number of important initiatives in the city during his short time in office.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Piedmont mayor resigns amid criticism over his right-wing social media comments

Piedmont Mayor Jeff Wieler 
resigned Sunday.
Piedmont Mayor Jeff Wieler resigned Sunday after an uproar over offensive comments he made on Facebook last week against members of the black and transgender communities.

Piedmont, a small hamlet of more than 10,000 residents encircled by Oakland, does not directly elect its mayor. Instead, the five-person city council appoints the mayor. For that reason, Wieler was essentially demoted from mayor to councilmember.

When Schaaf falls in Oakland, it always seems to be into progressives arms

The Uber building that never was.
In late 2015, it could be argued that Uber's announced move to Downtown Oakland, based on its transformative potential (good and bad), was the biggest news story in Oakland that year. The purchase of the old Sears Building for $123 million and Uber's promise to bring between 2,000 and 3,000 new employees to Oakland was hailed as major get for Mayor Libby Schaaf.

The deal heralded once again a stark new trajectory in Oakland that was to signify the type of Oakland cool Schaaf had been espousing ad nauseam. It also appeared to show a break from the type of dysfunction critics of former Mayor Jean Quan screamed about.

But the warm embrace of Uber back in 2015 had many skeptics. The ride-hailing company was already facing criticism for its misogynistic corporate ethos and many imagined a beacon of the Silicon Valley shared economy sitting on the corner of 20th and Broadway, often an area where protesters vandalized businesses, might as well place sign on the windows that read, "Hit here."

Barbara Lee wants to cut salaries for controversial Trump aides

North Bay Rep. Jared Huffman and East Bay Rep. Barbara Lee wants to punish two of President Donald Trump's top aides where it hurts--in the checkbook. Huffman and Lee introduced an amendment Friday to a government spending bill that would cut off the salaries of Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka.

Along with former National Security Advisor Steve Bannon, Lee, for one, has strongly opposed each for what she believes is anti-immigrant and racist policies.

“Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka and Stephen Miller have long embraced the views of white supremacists, white nationalists and Neo-Nazis," Lee said on Aug. 15. "These prejudiced ideologies have no place in the highest office in our land. I urge President Trump to remove Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka from the White House without delay.”

Monday, August 21, 2017

Nancy Skinner wants crimes committed by white supremacists groups to be treated as terrorism

Protesters in Berkeley last April.
Before the events last week in Charlottesville brought national focus to skirmishes between white supremacists groups and counter-protesters, East Bay State Sen. Nancy Skinner's district, which prominently includes Berkeley, was the epicenter of bloody clashes and debate over free speech.

On the day the State Legislature returned to session Monday, Skinner introduced legislation that would change California's anti-hate laws to include that crimes committed by white supremacists be prosecuted as terrorism.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bonta on Charlottesville: 'This is not who we are.' Says no permits should be given for hate rallies

Assemblymember Rob Bonta
East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta says President Donald Trump's comments last weekend asserting a moral equivalence between white supremacists marching in Charlottlesville and protesters marching in opposition were "irresponsibly and dangerously stated." On two separate occasions, Trump suggested blame for the death of one counter-protester and injuries to 19 others last Saturday rested on "many sides."

"This in not who we are," wrote Bonta in a lengthy piece posted on social media Wednesday night and emailed to followers of his assembly campaign.

Hayward to swear-in new police chief on Monday

Interim Police Chief Mark Koller was born
in Hayward and has served on the police
force in various capacities since 1981.
Mark Koller, a second-generation Hayward police officer, will be sworn-in next Monday as the city's fourteenth chief of police. The ceremony will be held at the Hayward City Hall rotunda, Aug. 21, starting at 3 p.m.

Koller has served as acting and interim police chief since August 2016 following the resignation of Diane Urban. Hayward City Manager Kelly McAdoo announced last month that Koller would be given the job full-time following what the city called a national search for the position.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

With Alameda just cause ordinance on pause, notorious landlord issues eviction notices

Renters and housing activists at Alameda's
Bay View Apartments.
Residents at Alameda's Bay View Apartments on Central Avenue have stood as the symbol of the island community's struggle with rising rents and a lack of affordable housing for more than two years.

On Wednesday, just days before the start of a new school year, three families received 60-day eviction notices from the owners of the complex, known in popular parlance as 470 Central. Three additional tenants were given three-day notices for non-payment, said the Alameda Renters Coalition.

They evictions come at a time when an Alameda landlords group successfully postponed implementation of just cause restrictions approved by the Alameda City Council in June. A referendum petition sought by landlords to nullify just cause, which allows property owners to evict tenants without cause, was certified in July by the Alameda city clerk.

Eric Swalwell has visited Iowa so many times that CNN thinks he represents the Hawkeye State

Rep. Eric Swalwell barnstormed Iowa last week,
fueling conversation that he's eyeing a run at
the 2020 Iowa Caucus.
Over the last 10 months, Rep. Eric Swalwell has made up to four trips to Iowa. Starting in October 2016 when he visited Iowa City to chat with milennials about student debt, buzz is increasing that the three-term congressman is eyeing a run for president in 2020. It also doesn't hurt that Swalwell was born in Sac City, IA before his family moved to Dublin.

In late February 2017, Swalwell addressed Democratic activists in Des Moines. He followed with a scathing rebuke of Iowa Rep. Steve King's comments in March against immigrants, while gamely noting that he was born in King's congressional district.

State superintendent candidates Tony Thurmond, Marshall Tuck talk teacher shortages

Early candidates for state superintendent, Richmond
Assemblymember Tony Thurmond and Marshall Tuck.
"At an education conference Thursday, the two announced candidates for state superintendent of public instruction called for more strategies to counter a teacher shortage they said is gripping the state. The comments by Marshall Tuck and Tony Thurmond indicate the issue will factor heavily in their campaigns to replace retiring State Superintendent Tom Torlakson next year," according to an article in EdSource.

Alameda County Dems say sheriff's spokesman who mistakenly retweeted white supremacist should be replaced

Alameda County Sgt. Ray Kelly said his retweet of white supremacist Richard Spencer Monday night was a mistake, according to multiple news reports.

“It’s 2017, the person in charge of your official Twitter account should be expected to know how to use Twitter” said Robin Torello, the chair of the Alameda County Democratic Party.

A day after the retweet, which included a hour-long video of Spencer following the Charlottesville tragedy last weekend, the Alameda County Democratic Party condemned the tweet and called for Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern to reassign Kelly from his duties as spokesperson.

"If Sgt. Ray Kelly’s actions were truly in error, then the Alameda County Sherriff’s Department should take immediate steps to ensure this type of error never happens again," said Torello.

“At a minimum, Sgt. Ray Kelly should be relieved from his duties with regards to the Department’s social media accounts, a person with demonstrated technical expertise should be put in charge of electronic communications, and a ‘101’ training on social media use should be conducted with the Department’s current Public Information Team”.

Torello added, “Given the Department’s recent history and actions by the current Sheriff and their PIO team, an apology alone will not suffice.”

Alameda County leaders say Monday night's incident "fits what is becoming a disturbing pattern on behalf of the department."

In the wake of the Trump's administration's focus on undocumented immigrants, Ahern has been heavily criticized by local Democratic Party leaders, in addition, to activists for what is viewed as his willingness to coordinate with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Form 460: East Bay's semi-annual campaign finance reports

It may be only August, but for federal, state and county races, the time for campaigns to raise money in advance of the June Primary is now. Based on mid-year campaign finance reports through June 30, several East Bay politicians were busy this year. Below are contributions, expenditure and ending cash on hand for East Bay races for Congress, State Legislature, Alameda County contests and November 2018 municipal elections in Alameda, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Leandro.

Alameda County Sheriff's Office briefly retweets message from white supremacist leader

The Alameda County Sheriff's Office Twitter
feed mistakenly contained a retweet from 
Richard Spencer Monday night.
Shortly before midnight, the Alameda County Sheriffs Office retweeted a video from prominent white supremacist Richard Spencer.

The tweet sent to followers of the Alameda County Sheriff's office Twitter page late Monday night included video of a hour-long press conference featuring Spencer's reaction to the incident in Charlottesville  Va. that included one dead and 19 injured after a 20-year-old from Ohio drove a car through a throng of counter protesters last Saturday.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Alameda County Dems are going to give Swalwell the riot act over his vote favoring Kate's Law

Rep. Eric Swalwell on CNN earlier this year.
Russia this. Russia that. East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell has basked in the glow of television studio lights in recent months. He's a fixture on CNN, MSNBC and sometimes Fox News. His task is to repeat attacks ad nauseam against President Donald Trump and the on-going allegations that his campaign colluded with Russia.

But back home in the 15th Congressional District, Swalwell is taking heat himself from the Alameda County Democratic Party.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Wicks grabs everyone's attention with big fundraising haul in 15th Assembly District race

The biggest political campaign in the East Bay next June is wasting little time revving up its fundraising engine.

The race in the 15th Assembly District already appeared to many local politicos as a early toss-up and a litany of endorsements and already large campaign coffers is only bolstering this initial analysis.

The seat was opened up last April when 15th District Assemblymember Tony Thurmond announced he would not run for re-election to a third term and instead declare his candidacy for state superintendent of public instruction. In the months since five candidate have officially filed intent to replace him.

They include Oakland Councilmember Dan Kalb, Richmond Councilmember Jovanka Beckles, political consultant Buffy Wicks, East Bay MUD board director Andy Katz and a potential darkhouse candidate in Berkeley school board member Judy Appel. The list, though, is likely to grow.

But before the race stabilizes, those already in the race are beginning to make their moves. It started last month when Beckles made a move to grab the attention of Berniecrats in the district. Our Revolution East Bay, a local offshoot of Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign announced support for Beckles.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Khanna says without Pelosi, House Democratic leadership would move to the right

Rep. Ro Khanna, rebutting some progressives who criticized him recently for supporting Nancy Pelosi's continued service as House minority leader, said without her the leadership position would move to the right.

"Who would we have if Nancy Pelosi wasn't minority leader? Next in line would be [Reps.] Steny Hoyer and Joe Crowley," said Khanna during a wide-ranging interview Wednesday in Fremont.

"My point is the caucus would move to the right. Find me a progressive person. If [Rep.] Keith Ellison said tomorrow I want to be minority leader and we need a bigger progressive voice, I would entertain that. But what I don't want to do is have the caucus move to the right."

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Quirk's Mylar balloon bill is vetoed by the governor

Assemblymember Bill Quirk called Gov.
Jerry Brown's veto "misguided."
Legislation that would have added criminal liabilities for those who willfully release metallic helium balloons at power lines was vetoed Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The bill, authored by Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk, however, was deemed by Brown as an unnecessary expansion of criminal law. Violations in Assembly Bill 1091 include a fine not to exceed $100, but also a threat of a misdemeanor for repeated offenses of the proposed law.

Barbara Lee is taking heat for saying Trump's new chief of staff is an 'extremist'

Rep. Barbara Lee during a town hall last
April at Laney College in Oakland.
East Bay Rep. Barbara Lee is under fire from the right after labeling President Donald Trump's new chief of staff John Kelly an "extremist" in a tweet last Friday. Lee also charged Trump with "militarizing the White House" by naming Kelly, a former Marines general and recent director of U.S. Homeland Security.

The firestorm was lit over the weekend after a tweet sent shortly after news that Trump's former chief of staff Reince Preibus had resigned and Kelly was tapped to replace him. "By putting Gen John Kelly in charge, Pres Trump is militarizing the White House & putting our executive branch in the hands of an extremist," said Lee, in the tweet.