Friday, September 29, 2017

EBC AGENDA | SEPT 29-OCT 5 | BERKELEY, SAN LEANDRO to snuff out flavored tobacco; OAKLAND homeless havens; more market rate housing in HAYWARD

Before you know it, candidate for office next year will be meeting face-to-face in forums and community meetings, each making their case for their respective office. Last week, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley and her challenger Oakland civil rights attorney Pamela Price kicked off the season at a contentious forum at Merritt College.

It's just another reminder, though, of how strange the East Bay is when it comes to public debates. The problem is, we don't have them and this isn't typical around the state. Candidate forums are fine, but they're merely informational and this suits the incumbent and takes away the single most important, and inexpensive shot, a good, but under-financed candidate can take at their opponent. Not that anyone noticed, but last year Claire Chiara, a Republican challenger in the 15th District, pummeled Assemblymember Tony Thurmond at a forum in Berkeley.

Hopefully, this coming election cycle allows important local races to gain greater attention through proper debates. At the presidential level, raucous debates where candidates can peel away their opponents weaknesses and potential offer voters greater insight into how a candidates performs on their feet and grasps the issues.

As was seen Wednesday night at Merritt College, O'Malley's campaign may have a considerable financial advantage over Price, but toe-to-toe, in even just a candidate forum format, she looked vulnerable.

Here's your highlights for this week in East Bay government:
➤San Leandro and Berkeley look to join Oakland in banning flavored tobacco

➤Oakland looks to create "safe havens" for the city's homeless

➤Berkeley seeks to weigh impacts of Alta Bates closing

➤More market-rate housing for Hayward

➤Fremont to approve massive 2.5 million sq. ft. tech business center

--SAN LEANDRO-- Regular council meeting, Monday, Oct. 2, 7 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
--BLUNT TALK-- San Leandro will discuss a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products Monday night. The issue met some resistance back in June and was referred back to the council's rules committee. The proposed ordinance also limits the sale of packaged cigarillos to five. The prohibition on flavored tobacco applies to products whether they contain nicotine or not. Penalties include a $2,500 for a second offense and revocation of their license for three years.

--But there's a big omission in the ordinance and that is menthol cigarettes. Oakland passed a similar flavored tobacco ban this month that included menthol. San Leandro's city attorney, however, has offered the council more conservative advice, stating a ban on menthol may put the city at risk of a lawsuit from Big Tobacco.

San Leandro begins debate on whether to honor city's first African American councilmember

Former San Leandro Councilmember Surlene 
Grant served from 1998-2008.
Near the end of former San Leandro Councilmember Ursula Reed's second term in office, she began exploring ways to honor her predecessor in District 2, Surlene Grant, the city's first-ever African American councilmember.

Reed first proposed renaming Joaquin Plaza, a modest courtyard located on East 14th Street near Davis Street, after Grant, who was appointed to council in 1998 to replace incoming Mayor Shelia Young. Grant, who is still living, served 10 years on the City Council, including two successful campaigns for the seat.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Assembly hopeful Ben Bartlett gets a boost from Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín

Berkeley Councilmember Ben Bartlett and
Mayor Jesse Arreguin.
PHOTO/Bartlett for Assembly
Just a month into Berkeley Councilmember Ben Bartlett's campaign for the 15th Assembly District, he has gained one of its plum endorsements, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín.

“California needs leaders with the vision, courage and experience to tackle the challenges facing our state. Ben Bartlett is the real deal,” Arreguín said on Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Ro Khanna's conservative challenger, Ron Cohen, stands with Trump on Anthem protests

Republican Ron Cohen finished fourth in the
2016 CA-17 June primary.
Listen and you will quickly understand where 17th Congressional District candidate Ron Cohen stands on the subject of athletes taking a knee during the National Anthem.

Cohen's campaign web site includes a self-playing video of Whitney Houston's famous rendition of the National Anthem sung at the Super Bowl.

"Protest all you want. TRUE AMERICANS DON'T KNEEL, CERTAINLY NOT IN PROTEST," says Cohen's web site. (Note: Cohen provided the emphasis.)

Alameda city manager's choice of a new fire chief could put her in the hot seat

Alameda's city manager is in a tough bind. With the retirement of Alameda Fire Chief Doug Long last week, City Manager Jill Keimach is likely to tab an outsider to lead the fire department, according to sources, possibly this week.

But Keimach, who was only hired in March 2016, is facing enormous pressure to choose the candidate backed by the Alameda International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Union Local 689, a number of elected city officials, and Assemblymember Rob Bonta.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Lee to Trump: 'End the war of words' with North Korea

War on the Korea peninsula would "catastrophic" and further threatened by talk of nuclear war, Rep. Barbara Lee said during a speech on the House floor Tuesday. "Diplomacy is the only answer. However, President Trump's actions has destabilized this overall process and stopped it before it could ever begin."

Lee took a moment to urge Congress to vote on a "No First Strike" (H.R. 669) bill she co-sponsored with California Rep. Ted Lieu.

"Provoking Kim will not make us any safer, it will only raise the temperature on an already volatile situation," said Lee.

There is no military solution to the conflict with North Korea, she added. "This administration must end the name-calling and the saber-rattling. President Trump must de-escalate his rhetoric before it is too late. Direct talks remain our best chance of ending this conflict peacefully."

Lee has previously advocated for the bill, which was first introduced in January. Following Trump's speech last week to United Nations, in which he again challenged the North Korean dictator, Lee called it an "abdication of values."

Monday, September 25, 2017

Will Roger Stone punk Rep. Eric Swalwell at Tuesday's House Intellgence hearing?

Rep. Eric Swalwell and Roger Stone.
Roger Stone, President Trump's dapper raconteur, has called East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell a "mannequin," a "lightweight," and a yellow-belied coward.

On Tuesday morning Stone will meet Swalwell and other Democrats at a House Intelligence Committee hearing into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia.

Fremont City Council, except one member, fell under the spell of powerful landlord interests

Fremont Councilmember Vinnie Bacon said last
week that a city rent board ordinance will do
nothing for renters. He supports rent control.
Appointed Fremont Councilmember David Bonaccorsi hid behind modest change while striking populist tones. His collegaues on the council meanwhile merely acknowledged the problems associated with rising rents before supporting the creation of five-member Fremont rent board last week. But it was only Fremont Councilmember Vinnie Bacon who called out the ordinance, which, when compared to the more significant rent control discussion last July, is a stark let down for Fremont renters living in the shadow of skyrocketing rents in Silicon Valley.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Hayward anti-discrimination task force recommends PD withdraw from Urban Shield

Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday at a 
community task force meeting in March.
A Hayward community task force created earlier this year to update the city's 25-year-old Anti-Discrimination Action Plan is recommending the city's police force end its participation in Urban Shield, the disaster training exhibition and weapons trade show held annually in Alameda County.

Friday, September 22, 2017

EBC AGENDA | SEPT 22-28 | HAYWARD hearts immigrants; ALAMEDA COUNTY garbage bond; AC TRANSIT fares well in survey

The Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors passed resolutions calling for the reinstatement of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) over the past few weeks. For progressives government bodies this is expected, but this week Hayward is passing its own resolution. The agenda item shows just how far Hayward has shifted in its public support for immigrants. Hayward was the last hold out in the Greater East Bay this year for declaring sanctuary city status. The fact was disheartening to many activists since Hayward is home to the largest Latino communities in the East Bay--roughly 40 percent.

Suffice to say it took awhile for Hayward administration and city council to come around and their breakneck pace in just the last six weeks has been noticeable. It started when Hayward's city administration moved quickly to keep the public informed after ICE arrested two undocumented immigrants. Its next test also comes Tuesday night with a draft update to its 1992 Anti-Discrimination Action Plan. The document includes a recommendation that Hayward Police Department end participation in Urban Shield, the controversial disaster training program held each year in Alameda County. Notably, a city staff report singles out the recommendation and in typical Hayward fashion, takes pains to highlight why it's not a good idea.

Here's your highlights for this week in East Bay government:
➤Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan wants to help bake cannabis locations.

➤Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty helps Fremont's Washington High.

➤Public bank forum in Oakland on Monday night

➤AC Transit: Love 'em or hate 'em?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

As Oakland labor talks stall, SEIU unleashes a flame throwing web site at Mayor Schaaf

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf won't likely face
a credible candidate for re-election next year
but SEIU Local 1021 is acting like anopponent.
Few East Bay labor unions are more aggressive than the Service Employees International Union Local 1021. Whether in Hayward where union leaders screamed at elected officials during a long labor contract impasse or the seemingly routine appearances of purple-clad SEIU members packing the Oakland City Council chambers, the union is hard-core.

Earlier this week, a report detailed stalled labor negotiations between the Oakland city administration and SEIU Local 1021, along with IFPTE Local 21. Together the unions represent roughly 3,000 city employees. According to the East Bay Express, negotiations became contentious after the city offered an initial contract containing no cost of living increases, and thereby angering the unions.

Apparently, SEIU Local 1021 is very upset. On Tuesday, it released a website taking dead aim at Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

Oakland's public bank feasibility study opens its account

Susan Harman, an Oakland activist and member of an advocacy group hoping to create potential ground-breaking public bank in Oakland held the head of fierce red dragon at Tuesday's city council meeting. The puppet head to Harman represented the group's last obstacle to a month's long push merely to convince city leaders to fund a $100,000 study on the feasibility of a public bank in Oakland and the region.

"That is the last dragon we're killing. No more dragons. We're starting a public bank. No more imaginary dragons," said Harman, in a celebratory move after the Oakland City Council approved an $75,000 allocation toward the study Tuesday night.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Amid grumblings, Alameda will evaluate city manager's performance in closed session

Alameda City Manager
Jill Keimach
There's a curious closed session item Tuesday night on the Alameda City Council's agenda, an evaluation of City Manager Jill Keimach. Curious because her annual performance review isn't until next March.

Sources at City Hall, including council members, won't say why they are chatting about Keimach in closed session Tuesday evening, but there has been a very noticeable uptick in complaints about her in just the past few weeks.

We love the A's, say community activists, just not a ballpark at the Peralta site

Alvina Wong, right, with a Chinatown business
owner who expressed concern about an A's
ballpark near Laney College.
Alvina Wong grew up in Chinatown. As a child she walked with her grandmother to buy groceries, learned Chinese calligraphy and made friends in the park. "That's the type of community we have in Chinatown as well as East Lake and that is what is forgotten when we look at big sports stadiums," said Wong during a rally attended by community activists, students and local business owners who believe the A's planned 35,000-seat ballpark will negatively impact the working-class immigrant community.

"We get to decide the fate of our community," said Wong, a member of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network. "In no part of that dream did we ever imagine putting a stadium there."

Monday, September 18, 2017

EBC AGENDA | SEPT 15-21 | OAKLAND public bank; FREMONT rent review ordinance; HAYWARD shuttle study; KHANNA town hall

Without a doubt, affordable housing is the biggest issue facing the East Bay. Last week, the state legislature delivered some help to alleviate the crisis, but only time will tell if the wisdom of allowing developers a quick path to building more housing was ultimately pan out. The potential loss of local control in some Alameda County cities created opposition and now skepticism. On the flip side, the total lack of new housing in places like Alameda likely renders the state's actions prudent.

Meanwhile, this week city governments in Oakland, San Leandro and Fremont continue to address housing and excessive rent increases. Like many issues in Alameda County, once one has a suitable idea, they all eventually--eventually!--copy each other. Tuesday in Fremont is a perfect example as the council is set to create a revamped rent review structure. The proposal is similar to Alameda and San Leandro. However, those cities eventually added stronger renter-friendly amendments later such as landlord-paid relocation payments to renters, and, briefly in Alameda, just cause restrictions. These additions are included in Fremont's ordinance. It begs the question, if Fremont believes rent ordinances in nearby cities are good enough to copy, then why don't they copy the entire amended ordinance instead of the sluggish piecemeal approach being offered in south county?

Here's this week's highlights in East Bay government:
➤Oakland's public bank feasibility study returns. But who's going to pay?

➤Alameda County supervisors respond to scathing grand jury report

➤Hayward eyes BART shuttle service

➤How will San Leandro pay for its tenant relocation payment program?

➤Rep. Ro Khanna town hall on Wednesday.

--OAKLAND-- Regular council meeting, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 5:30 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
--PUBLIC BANK FEASIBILITY STUDY-- An Oakland-based or more likely regional public bank to localize investment in local business and mortgage opportunities for underserved communities returns to the Oakland City Council after a road block during its budget season last June. But the public bank is really about giving cash-based cannabis enterprises a legitimate banking solution. Because of the federal prohibition against cannabis, most banks shy away from the industry.

On his way to Santa Clara, Coliseum JPA retains CEO

Oakland Coliseum Authority Executive Director Scott McKibben had a verbal agreement to take a similar position with the Santa Clara Stadium Authority, the government body that runs Levi's Stadium. However, the Coliseum JPA Board of Commissioners on Friday morning offered a deal he could not refuse.

Friday, September 15, 2017

During marathon legislative session, Bill Quirk walks 52 laps around Assembly floor

Going back to his days on the Hayward City Council, a departing colleague once noted with a smile that Bill Quirk's surname matched his personality. Assemblymember Bill Quirk, in fact, fully embraces his quirkiness and it showed again Thursday night.

While the Assembly was continuing a long slog through hundreds of bills Thursday night and today, Quirk and San Diego Republican Assemblymember Marie Waldron passed the time with a little exercise around the perimeter of the Assembly floor. It also gained the attention of equally bored members of the capitol press corps.

Noel Gallo pledges council district funds to support citizen-led lawsuit against Raiders

Godfather Griz, representing Forever Oakland,
addresses the Coliseum JPA Friday morning
at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
While some Coliseum Joint Powers Authority commissioners appeared less than enthused about a fan base seemingly grasping again at a long-gone straw to keep the Raiders in the East Bay via a lawsuit, Oakland Councilmember Noel Gallo says he will offer discretionary funding from his office to help the cause.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Progressive wave of Bay Area candidates strike unifying message against Democratic Party: 'They're not us'

Alameda County District Attorney candidate
Pamela Price speaking to voters Wednesday 
at the City of Alameda Democratic Club.
PHOTOS/Zac Goldstein
Four prohibitive political underdogs took the stage in Alameda Wednesday night with visions of unseating entrenched incumbents in the U.S. Senate, Congress and the Alameda County District Attorney's office. While their platforms hovered around slightly different points on the far left, there was a unifying message: the state and national Democratic Party is out of touch with own constituency.

"We are the progressive wave," said Stephen Jaffe, who is challenging Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi next June. "We are here because we are the true believers. We represent the fundamental core values of the Democratic Party. I do not adhere to the politics and programs and the people presently in control of the Democratic Party. They are corporatists. They are centrists and they are elitists. They are not us," said Jaffe. "It is our job as progressives to band together in this fashion and take back the party from the people who have hijacked it."

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

UPDATE: CEO leaving Coliseum JPA to oversee Levi's Stadium

Scott McKibben is headed to the South Bay.
UPDATE: On his way to Santa Clara, Coliseum JPA retains CEO
Like many of the professional sports franchises in the East Bay, Oakland Coliseum Joint Powers Authority Executive Director Scott McKibben is skipping town.

McKibben, a former East Bay newspaper publisher and CEO of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, will be named executive director of the Santa Clara Stadium Authority, which runs Levi's Stadium.

Coliseum JPA weighs support for fan-led strategy to sue Raiders

A potential lawsuit against the Raiders and
the NFL may lack legal standing without
support of a government entity like the JPA.
The Oakland Raiders are gone to Las Vegas, at least, in 2-3 years, but a legal strategy hatched by some fans to keep the team or its logo and colors in the East Bay, is seeking the support of the Oakland Coliseum Joint Powers Authority.

The proposal backed by the fan group "Forever Oakland," is scheduled to be discussed at the Coliseum JPA's monthly meeting on Friday.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A's choose site for downtown ballpark: It's Laney College

An overview of the general area the A's
plan to build a 35,000-seat, privately-
financed ballpark in Oakland.
After years of uncertainty and concerted efforts by the Oakland Athletics to build a new ballpark in Fremont, then San Jose, the team has chosen a downtown location near Laney College in Oakland.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported news of the announcement Tuesday night, along with a estimated completion date of 2023.

Berkeley City Council backs use of pepper spray during protest

Berkeley is facing an unprecedented and highly-coordinated effort by extremists groups to repeatedly turn the city into a battle ground, Interim Berkeley Police Chief Andy Greenwood told the City Council Tuesday afternoon.

With large plywood shields and rudimentary weapons used recently by protesters splayed on the city council chamber floor, an amendment to the Berkeley's use-of-force policy allowing police to deploy pepper spray when protesters attack law enforcement and the public was approved Tuesday evening by the City Council.

The council voted, 6-3, to include an amendment to the city's 20-year-old policy on the use of pepper spray. Councilmembers Cheryl Davila, Kate Harrison, and Kriss Worthington opposed the proposal backed by Mayor Jesse Arreguin.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Former East Bay legislative candidate is running for state insurance commissioner

Peter Kuo finished a surprising second in the 
2014 10th State Senate race that included Dems
Bob Wieckowski and Mary Hayashi.
Republican Peter Kuo ran for the state senate's 10th District in 2014 and followed it up last year with a challenge in the 17th Congressional District. Kuo lost on both occasions, although, he advanced to the 2014 general election, only to lose to Bob Wieckowski.

Kuo, though, lacked any experience in government during his first run, but the Taiwanese American businessman caught the eye of some California Republicans, primarily for his opposition to Senate Constitutional Amendment 5, which would have added some affirmation action requirements for admissions to the University of California system.

Sheriff Ahern wants to use asset forfeiture funds to pay officer's overtime at DUI checkpoints

Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern at a
town hall in Hayward in June.
Starting last Labor Day weekend, Alameda County sheriff's deputies staffed various DUI checkpoints in an effort to discourage holiday drinking and driving.

To pay any overtime associated with the operation and two others slated during the Christmas holiday season and Memorial Day weekend next year, Sheriff Gregory Ahern is asking the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to tap in federal asset forfeiture funding.

Berkeley looks at decriminalizing display of female nipples

Berkeley Councilmember
Kriss Worthington
An inequity exists within Berkeley municipal nudity laws, says Councilmember Kriss Worthington, that criminalizes the display of women's breasts and, specifically, nipples while overlooking topless men in public.

Worthington's proposal Tuesday evening would delete a reference to the public display of female areola in the city's municipal code. Violators could be subjected to a misdemeanor or fine. Worthington says the current law pertaining to women is "non-sensical."

Prominent Tri-Valley developer indicted for illegal campaign contributions to Swalwell

Eric Swalwell announcing his first run for
Congress at a 2011 rally in Dublin.
On a rainy night in April 2012, during what would be former Rep. Pete Stark's final political campaign, the irascible 40-year congressman lashed out at his young opponent, then Dublin Councilmember Eric Swalwell, alleging he took bribes from a well-connected Tri-Valley developer. "If I were a lawyer, I would call that bribery," Stark charged. "So, I'll let Mr. Swalwell define what he thinks taking all this money from people that he gave special zoning privileges to is. Maybe it's how he sees his role in government."

Somewhat shaken, Swalwell regrouped and quipped to the overflow audience at the Hayward City Council chambers, "As far as I know, I have not accepted any bribes. I don't know what Congressman Stark is talking about. Maybe the F.B.I. is waiting for me outside."

Years later, it turns out, a kernel of Stark's charges appears to again have some credibility after one of the donors referenced during that fateful candidates forum, influential Tri-Valley developer James Tong of Charter Properties, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Aug. 31 for making more than $10,000 in illegal contributions in the names of family members. The contributions were made to Swalwell's 2012 congressional campaign.

Friday, September 8, 2017

EBC AGENDA | SEPT 8-14 | BERKELEY strives for nipple equality; OAKLAND burglaries up; Sheriff wants $$ for OT; water thieves get leniency

A hallmark of 2017 in the East Bay is that many of the issues in previous year that usually focus solely on the national level are flooding down to the local level on a regular basis. For the most part, thank President Trump. This week both the Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors will offer resolutions opposing Trump rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. And for those prepared to watch disaster porn all weekend on television, the county is also keeping its disaster relief fund open for Hurricane Irma. In addition, this week begins the East Bay Citizen's foray into Berkeley and, boy, did they not let us down.

Here's your highlights for the week in East Bay government:
➤Burglaries in Oakland have skyrocketed over the last three months, says OPD.

➤Oakland construction firm charged with bid-rigging is losing a county contract

➤Idling your vehicle for too long in Berkeley might get you in trouble.

➤EBMUD is allowing water thieves an $800 discount on their first offense for meter tampering.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Tenant relocation payments finally approved in San Leandro

A proposed tenant relocation payment program in San Leandro has for more than a year shuttled back and forth between the City Council and its rules committee without resolution, worrying tenants and angering landlords who have balked at added rent restrictions.

Despite approving Tuesday night, what is now called the "Tenant Relocation Ordinance," the council was still less than resolute in its support. Throughout the council discussion, a few members appeared confused, if not highly apprehensive, about the agenda item.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

In a surprise, Alameda repeals its just cause ordinance at the behest of local renters group

Over the past month, members of the Alameda Renters Coalition had been toying with a counterintuitive proposal. Instead of fighting a costly election campaign sometime next year to oppose a referendum offered by Alameda landlords to roll back just cause protections for renters that was approved in May, maybe it was time to cut their losses and live to fight another day.

On the night the Alameda City Council was scheduled to decide whether to set an election date for the proposed ballot measure to repeal just cause, a spokesman for the group urged them to instead repeal the ordinance.

The council obliged, voting 4-1, to rescind the action approved just four months ago, an amendment to the more wide-ranging rent stabilization ordinance approved by the council in March 2016. Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft was the lone opposition.

Piedmont picks a new mayor as city moves forward following Wieler resignation

Robert McBain, left, seated withCouncilmember 
Teddy Grey King, was chosen as Piedmont mayor 
Tuesday night. PHOTO/Keegan Tatum
By Keegan Tatum

Bob McBain tapped his left hand on the papers of an open binder with an obvious mixture of nerves and excitement as he addressed a few dozen people for the first time as Piedmont’s mayor.

McBain succeeds Jeff Wieler after Wieler made bigoted comments on social media; resigned as mayor; and, then, left the City Council entirely on Aug. 31. Piedmont’s mayor is elected by vote of the city council.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Brooks, Kaplan, Gallo to offer Oakland council resolution supporting restoration of DACA

Later this month, three Oakland councilmembers will introduce a resolution offering the city's support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that was rescinded Tuesday by the Trump administration.

The executive order issued under President Barack Obama in 2012 allows undocumented immigrant minors who were brought to the U.S. before 2007 an opportunity to stay in the country and are allowed work permits for renewable two-year periods.

Alameda, citing sanctuary city policy, rejects federal grant

Months after Alameda became one of the first cities in the county to pass legislation declaring sanctuary city status, they now may be the first to reject a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Last week, Alameda city officials declined to sign a document required by the Department of Justice in order to apply for federal Justice Assistance Grants (JAG). Signing the document would certify that Alameda "does not restrict sending or receiving information regarding citizenship or immigration status."

But the city says signing the document would violate its sanctuary city policy approved Jan. 17--three days before President Donald Trump's inauguration--that prohibits the city from cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.