Sunday, January 29, 2017

On short notice, hundreds of Alamedans show support for their Muslim neighbors

A rally at the Islamic Center of Alameda Sunday afternoon in opposition to President Trump's immigration ban attracted hundreds on short notice. PHOTO/Steven Tavares
A quickly organized rally Sunday afternoon in support of Muslims in Alameda grew to more than 300 people. The rally in front of the Islamic Center of Alameda was organized online over the weekend to express solidarity with Muslims. It gained energy following protests on Saturday at San Francisco International Airport and others airports across the country opposing President Trump’s executive order banning travelers from seven Middle Eastern countries.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

If Swalwell is indeed running for Feinstein's senate seat, poll shows him trailing the pack

It would not be the first time Rep. Eric Swalwell

has flown a trial balloon to gauge support 
for a 

run in the U.S. Senate.
When Barbara Boxer announced in 2015 that she would not run for re-election to the U.S. Senate, East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell's name curiously popped up on the early list of candidates coveting her seat.

Most observers believed the move was merely an attempt to raise the now-third term congressman in the statewide consciousness. Swalwell quickly offered to support to Kamala Harris, who was elected last November.

Now, with speculation rising over future of the 83-year-old U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein--will she retire or run for re-election in 2018--a hypothetical poll Thursday again gave an indication Swalwell is raising another trial balloon.

Uncertainty is the word from Alameda County’s D.C lobbyists

Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan wants
to arm residents with information to fight likely
federal cuts to the safety net.
When describing the current lay of the land in Washington D.C. Alameda County’s congressional lobbyists Thursday used the same word more than a dozens times—uncertainty.

From questions about the future of the Affordable Care Act, the federal budget, and impacts to local sanctuary cities, the county’s eyes and ear in the Beltway are waiting for the Trump administration and House Republicans to begin showing their cards.

Thursday’s hearing was organized by Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan to provide information not only to constituents, but local elected officials, for dealing with the new power structure in Washington. Following Trump’s victory last November and the realization health care in the county could be severely impacted, Chan has been seen by many in the county as clearly reenergized to protect it.

WTF is going on in the South Bay?

San Jose Councilmember Lan Diep took the
oath of office Tuesday while holding a 
Captain America shield. PHOTO/@SanJoseD4
During some Oakland City Council meetings, several elected officials routinely wear hats and shirts representing the city's professional sports franchises. On one level it expresses their support and city pride. Conversely--and it's not pointed out enough--it also suggests they might favor the franchises with public finances it may not deserve. But on the surface, most people expect their elected officials to dress the part and take their jobs seriously.

There's that and then there's what San Jose Councilmember Lan Diep did Tuesday when he took the oath of office while holding a limited-edition Captain America shield. Diep told numerous media outlets that he's a fan of comic books and that he takes the job of representing San Jose's District 4 seriously. Diep added, there was patriotic symbolism involved in the decision.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Trump to punish sanctuary cities with loss of federal money; Oakland could lose $130m

President Trump's executive order also restarts the
"Secure Communities" law enforcement program
that was discontinued in 2014.
President Trump's executive order Wednesday seeking to punish sanctuary cities by halting federal grants could effect several East Bay cities, including Oakland which stands to lose $130 million in funding, a potentially devastating amount to its general budget.

Other East Bay cities, such as Berkeley and Alameda, which only declared itself a sanctuary city last week, could also see hits to its treasury. 

Trump's directives Wednesday also set in motion his well-publicized wall on the U.S. southern border and reinstitutes the controversial deportation program discontinued in 2014 called "Secure Communities."

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Survey: Hayward residents are concerned about housing, jobs

A city survey found 75 percent of residents
have a positive image of their city.
Hayward residents consistently voiced concern over the overall lack of affordable housing and job creation in the city, according to a city survey released last week. Those polled also continue to pull their collective hair out over traffic congestion in Hayward, likely a holdover from the unpopular downtown traffic grid known as "The Loop."

Many of the 630 Hayward resident who participated in the survey conducted just prior to Thanksgiving, blamed the city for failing to create more affordable housing with more than 46 percent giving a negative answer. The issue, however, is not unique to Hayward city government. Nearly every  city in the East Bay faces similar affordable housing deficits.

Kaplan to CalPERS: Divest from Dakota and Keystone XL pipelines

Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan
at Standing Rock in late November.
Last November, Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan braved blisteringly cold weather to protest the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. The project along with the Keystone XL pipeline, another project strongly opposed by environmentalists, was subsequently blocked by President Obama, only to be set back in motion Tuesday by an executive order signed by President Trump.

Just hours later, Kaplan denounced the executive order and sent a letter to CalPERS, the state's public employees retirement fund, calling for it to divest from companies involved in the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Hayward to form 22-person task force to combat discrimination

Hayward Councilmember Francisco Zermeno
raised the subject of sanctuary cities during
Tusday night's council meeting.
On the same night Alameda and Emeryville, with some urgency, declared themselves sanctuary cities, the Hayward City Council set the stage for creating an up to 22-person task force to combat discrimination in the city. One of the possible outcomes, however, includes becoming a sanctuary city.

“Since the presidential election last fall, there’s been a lot of turmoil nationwide and concern that has been brought forward from our community, in particular, about how can we maintain Hayward as an inclusive and supportive community and that has taken the form in a lot of different requests to the city,” said Hayward City Manager Kelly McAdoo.

Using the President's favorite social media site, East Bay officials respond to Trump's inauguration

PRESIDENT | Donald Trump's effective use of Twitter throughout the campaign and the presidential transition dominated headlines. On the day of Trump's inauguration as the nation's 45th president, many East Bay elected officials used the same social media site to express themselves, sometimes with melancholy and, in other instances, with defiance.

Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta, on the other hand, needed a moment of zen before beginning the fight to oppose Trump's potential policies in the state assembly.


The Oakland Raiders filed relocation papers
Thursday with the NFL to move the franchise
to Las Vegas.
OAKLAND | On the day the Oakland Raiders filed relocation papers to move the franchise to Las Vegas--the team's second attempt in as many years to flee the city--Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf may have previewed the argument she intends to offer NFL owners for keeping the team in the East Bay.

Schaaf also suggested the team's potential fan base in the desert will be lacking. "Oakland has something no other city ever will--a die-hard fan base that is loyal and true to the Raiders and wants to see them stay here in Oakland where they were founded. Only Oakland brings the Raiders and the NFL a competitive stadium proposal, along with legacy and loyalty."

Thursday, January 19, 2017

San Leandro mayor is skipping Trump's inauguration: I've got tickets to the African American Museum

San Leandro Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter has
other plans during Friday's inauguration.
San Leandro Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter, like other local city leaders is in Washington, D.C. this week for the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors. But unlike some, Cutter is not planning to attend President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration this Friday.

"So why not attend the inauguration since my goal as mayor has always been to bring people together and look for common issues so we can work together on them?" Cutter wrote in an email Thursday.

Alameda County Dem chair wants every East Bay city to pass minimum wage, rent control, sanctuary city legislation

Alameda County Democratic Party chair Robin
Torello was re-elected to another two-year term.
Earlier this month, Alameda County Democrats reappointed long-time party chair Robin Torello. Although, her name may not be readily known outside county politics, her influence is unquestioned among local Democrats. Not to mention her leadership in making the county likely the most progressive area in the entire nation.

But there appears to be more work to be done in Alameda County, according to Torello, who told the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee that she wants every city in the county to embrace hot-button progressive principles, such as becoming sanctuary cities, raising citywide minimum wages and enacting rent control regulations.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

‘We have your back’: Alameda becomes a sanctuary city

A rally outside Alameda City Hall Tuesday in support of 
sanctuary city status attracted one protester displaying 
the photo of Kate Steinle, who was murdered by 
an undocumented immigrant last year in San Francisco.
Alameda is now a sanctuary city after the City Council approved a resolution Tuesday night that it believes gives some protections for residents who could potentially be adversely affected by President-elect Donald Trump’s policies.

“I stand for our immigrant population and the undocumented. I stand with our brothers and sisters of Muslim faith and all faiths,” said Alameda Councilmember Jim Oddie, who spearheaded the resolution. “You said, ‘You had our back,’ well, tonight as a council, I’m proud to say that ‘We have your back.’”

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Alameda set to approve sanctuary city status before Trump's inauguration

ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | Just days before President-elect Donald Trump takes the oath of office, the Alameda City Council will likely become the next Bay Area city to become a sanctuary city. A discussion on the matter continues Tuesday night and satisfies a desire by some councilmembers to approve the resolution before Trump takes office on Friday.

Few changes were made to the referral authored by Councilmember Jim Oddie on Dec. 20. The resolution's impetus is as a bulwark against any actions the Trump administration may take against undocumented immigrants and religious groups, among other racial demographics, Oddie said last month.

Many of the actions within the resolution are already either law or current Alameda policies. Under the resolution, Alameda police officers, in addition, to the city's treasury and resources will be prohibited from use in the investigation and apprehension of individuals solely accused of violating federal immigration law.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Hayward school district raises minimum wage to $15 an hour

Hayward school board trustee Luis Reynoso
says city and county leaders have done nothing
to increase the minimum wage. 
After the Hayward school board unanimously approved a resolution giving its unrepresented employees a boost in wages to $15 an hour on Wednesday, school board trustee Luis Reynoso said he wants to make it city and countywide.

"Our city and local officials have done nothing for years," Reynoso said before Wednesday night's vote. "If we don't take action now people will go homeless. That's what's going to happen. We need to help our parents."

The increase is effective immediately and covers only district employees not represented by unions, a small number of the entire workforce, but ensures every employee is at or above the $15 threshold. Currently, no union-represented employees earn below $15 an hour, said a staff report.

For Alameda County Democrats, not everybody loves Fremont's Bacon

Fremont Councilmember Vinnie Bacon
When Fremont Councilmember Vinnie Bacon appeared to be gloating last week about the city's most recent electoral results that flew under the banner of an insurgent call for slow-growth, Councilmember Raj Salwan couldn’t take it anymore and he may have been voicing the complaints of many Alameda County Democrats.

“This was a change election, not just in Fremont, but all over the Bay Area,” Salwan responded during the discussion last Tuesday to appoint a new member to the Fremont City Council. “I don’t see this how you see it.”

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Ron Cowan, Alameda mover and shaker, Harbor Bay developer, dies.

Harbor Bay Isle developer, Ron Cowan, 
passed away Jan. 11.
APPRECIATION | In 2014, I was commissioned to write a short history of Ron Cowan's life and the building of Alameda's Harbor Bay Isle. Cowan passed away on Jan. 11, at age 82. Over the span of nine months, I listened to hours of stories about his life, his connections to high-profile politicians and the fits and starts that resulted in Harbor Bay. I also got to ride around town in his Bentley. He was a complicated man whose early life shaped a constant thirst for achievement masked in a desire for unconditional love. Here is an excerpt from that 18,000-word piece. 

On a bright sunny day, Ron Cowan drove his car to the recently reclaimed land on Bay Farm Island in Alameda. The sand was neat and flat in every direction. It was a blank slate on the bay ready for transformation. “I don’t know what drove me to go there,” says Cowan, “but it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.” Others had envisioned a static grid of stock homes at Bay Farm Island. Cowan imagined homes there, too, but also a canvass to create a better community.

The allure of Bay Farm Island, for Cowan, was about building a community from scratch—down to naming the streets and choosing the style of brick work to be laid at each home. “This was not manufactured housing. We didn’t plot 900 acres the land with little concern for affecting the lifestyle. We came at it as different as night and day.”

Friday, January 13, 2017


Rep. Barbara Lee will boycott the Jan. 20
presidential inauguration. 
In Oakland, where fewer than five percent of voters cast a ballot for Donald Trump last November, apparently the famous East Bay political slogan, "Barbara Lee speaks for me" is very true.

On Thursday, Rep. Barbara Lee said she will boycott Trump's inauguration ceremonies next week. In a statement, Lee, one of the most progressive members of Congress, said Trump's past rhetoric against immigrants and people of color and his inability to rectify those comments after being elected last November, is the reason behind her decision.

“I will not be celebrating or honoring an incoming president who rode racism, sexism, xenophobia and bigotry to the White House,” said Lee. North Bay Rep. Jared Huffman will also not attend the Jan. 20 festivities in Washington, D.C.

“He called women ‘pigs,’ stoked Islamophobia and attacked a Gold Star family. He mocked a disabled reporter and appealed to people’s worst instincts. I cannot in good conscience attend an inauguration that would celebrate this divisive approach to governance,” Lee said. “On Inauguration Day, I will not be celebrating. I will be organizing and preparing for resistance.”

One thing is for sure, there will be no blowback for the decision among her East Bay constituents. In Oakland, which makes up the largest portion of the 13th District, just 4.7 percent of registered voters backed Trump. In all of Alameda County, just 15 percent voted for eventual president-elect.

The announcement follows a high-profile attempt last Monday by Lee and other progressive Democrats to protest the Electoral College certificication of the November results. In Lee's case, her microphone was shut off while speaking on the House floor.

Khanna on Congress: 'Pharmaceutical industry is a cancer on this body'

CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Rep. Ro Khanna, during a House floor speech Friday, issued a short stemwinder against the powerful pharmaceutical lobby.

Khanna asked why an amendment that would lower prescription drug costs by allowing imports from Canada was not including in the proposal that will replace the Affordable Care Act.

"It was appalling that 13 senate Democrats voted against the Sanders amendment," said Khanna. "And they did so because the pharmaceutical industry is a cancer on this body. The pharmaceutical companies contributions are a cancer."

Khanna's comments might be ring a happy tone for some South Bay progressives who are still on the fence on whether the freshman congressmember will be a progressive in the mold of his predecessor Mike Honda.

However, his opposition to corporate campaign contributions, is not new. Khanna ran on a platform prohibiting his campaign from taking contributions from political action committees and lobbyists.


LEGISLATURE | BUDGET | Following Gov. Jerry Brown's fiscal budget proposal this week seeking to balance the first state budget deficit since 2012 with $1.6 billion in cuts, local East Bay state legislators and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors weighed-in:

"The Governor’s budget takes a cautious view of the state’s revenue picture. While that is a wise approach, we must carefully prioritize how we spend our limited funds," Bonta said this week. “This is the beginning of the process to craft a spending plan that reflects our California priorities and values. I look forward to a healthy discussion that leads to an outcome that is fiscally responsible and worthy of our great state.”

While praising Brown's proposed bump in spending for education, he was dissatisfied with the lack of increased spending for undocumented immigrants and cuts to affordable housing, the medical workforce and child care.

“I’m concerned about the Governor’s proposal to eliminate new funding for child care. The Governor’s budget would prevent almost 3,000 children from attending state child care programs," said Bonta. "This would have a serious negative impact on working families. As a state, California cannot continue to be prosperous and progressive without investing in our precious future. We owe it to our children to get them off to a strong, early start in life and that includes funding for child care. I will fight alongside my colleagues to see that we don’t shortchange our children.”

"The good news is the Governor’s proposal continues to support crucial safety net programs such as the earned income tax credit for low wage working families, the Legislature’s approved increase in the State’s minimum wage and extension of health care to millions of Californians, as well as robust climate and environmental protections. True to form, the Governor also proposes increases that shore up the State’s reserves and Rainy Day Fund.

Less good news is that this budget slows down the funding increases to K-12 schools and early care and education programs. As Chair of the Senate’s Budget sub-committee on Corrections, Public Safety, and the Judiciary, I am particularly concerned about the projected growth in expenditures related to incarceration.

Hovering above all are the unanswered questions on how threats from Washington on healthcare, immigration, tax policy and the like, may impact California. The Governor chose not to alter his budget based on speculation but made it clear he is on alert and prepared to respond to protect Californians."

“Californians deserve a disciplined and responsible state budget and good stewardship of every single taxpayer dollar. The state’s budget should focus on smarter water and transportation infrastructure spending, opportunity and success in education, housing costs, and our long-term debts, not on spending more money on new programs. These are the real issues facing communities across the state, and they should be a priority in any budget discussions.

I commend Governor Brown for recognizing our uncertain economic future and our need to be prudent in our budgeting. Unfortunately, this budget still needs to place greater priority on reforming our spending, including on our water and transportation systems, and on addressing our pension costs. These needs are growing by the day, and, long-term, they threaten to sap resources from other vital programs, like education and public safety. I look forward to working with the Governor’s office and colleagues on both sides of the aisle to keep the focus on these critical issues for California.”

"As the chair of Budget Subcommittee 2, I will work to see we continue to grow our clean economy, combat climate change and protect our state’s environment. “We must be mindful that although California’s unemployment rate has dropped sharply over the past five years, not everyone has equally benefited from our economic growth, and it’s in our best interests to assist those families who are still struggling.”

Alameda County leaders are bracing for “devastating” potential impacts of Governor Jerry Brown’s latest State Budget proposal, which calls for shifting more than $4.4 billion over six years in costs for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) to counties with no additional revenue to cover those expenses.

Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson said the shift would unfairly burden counties with costs they could neither control nor afford. “This would be devastating to counties all over the state,” said Carson. “We undoubtedly would have to make cuts in other vital social services to cover these costs.”

The potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act in Congress will likely severely impact the state and county budget, said supervisors and administration. “We are clearly entering into a period of high uncertainty and expect significant challenges ahead related to County programs and services and available financing,” said Alameda County Administrator Susan Muranishi.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


ASSEMBLY DISTRICT ELECTIONS | Every odd year, California Democrats, almost entirely the insiders and party activists, choose 14 delegates per Assembly district to write and influence the party's platform. In most years, few vote and the exercise is often an avenue for local assemblymembers to flex their power and elect a slate of delegates of their choosing.

But this didn't happen in Oakland's 18th District last weekend when 13 of Assemblymember Rob Bonta's slate of 14 candidates failed to win a delegate seat. The defeat was largely leveled by an energized and well-organized group of progressives inspired by Sen. Bernie Sanders's presidential run.

Bonta's defeat is surprising because of his strong popularity in the district that includes Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro. Jim Oddie, Bonta's assembly district director, said the results don't mean anything when it comes to the enthusiasm of party insiders toward the assemblymember.

"There's a lot of energy and excitement around the party," said Oddie. "If you look at his record, he's one of the most progressive leaders around."

But the trouncing handed to Bonta by Berners was unique among neighboring assembly district.

Several East Bay Assembly districts reported much higher voter turnout than previous years. More than 800 18th District voters cast a ballot during a downpour in San Leandro last Saturday.

In Richmond's 15th District, more than 1,500 Democrats cast a vote. Assemblymember Tony Thurmond's slate of delegates swept the race.

In addition, to East Bay Democrats being energized to oppose the incoming Trump administration, new rules enacted this year allowed for greater participation. As opposed to years past, voters were able to register the same day as Democrats and vote in the delegate election.

AD 15 MALES: Brett Badelle, Vincent Casalaina, Alex Knox, Gregory Lyman, Jael Myrick, Abel Pineda, Sanjay Ranchod. FEMALES: Judith Appel, Wendy Bloom (executive board rep.), Kathy Chao Rothberg, Jess Dervin-Ackerman, Beatriz Leyva-Cutler, Rochelle Pardue, Okimoto, Rita Xavier.

AD16 MALES: Dean Wallace, Connor O'Neill, Sawn Kumagai, Jerome Pandell, Greg Bonato, Bob Donovan, Thomas Tellner. FEMALES: Amy Chen, Renee Zeimer, Sabina Zafar, Amy Miller, Ann Katzburg, Brodie Hilp, Debbie Look (executive board rep).

AD18 MALES: Sean Dugar (executive board rep), Michael Lee, Jeromey Shafer, Dan Wood, Carter Lavin, Michael Fortes, Mike Katz-Lacabe. FEMALES: Pamela Harris, Rabia Keeble, Eleanor Casson, Amber Childress, Mara Schechter, Gabrielle Dolphin, Malia Vella.

AD20 MALES: Rocky Fernandez (executive board rep), Frederic Morrison, Gary Singh, Cullen Tiernan, Jerry Ahuja, Seth Rediker, Tim Horn. FEMALES: Jennifer Kassan, Miki Nakamura, Michele Jenkins, Raisa Donato, Moira Dean, Dolly Adams, Diana Silva.

AD25 MALES: Dharminder Dewan, Tejinder Dhami, Rejesh Gupta, Hosam Haggag, Romesh Japra, Rob Means, Mahesh Pakala (executive board rep). FEMALES: Alka Bhatnagar, Veena Birla, Karina Dominguez, Madhu Gupta, Carmen Montano, Reena Rao, Sameena Usman. 

Khanna would risk arrest to protect undocumented immigrants

Rep. Ro Khanna
Freshman Rep. Ro Khanna, appearing on a podcast, said he would risk being arrested in order to protect undocumented immigrants in his congressional district from being detained by federal agents.

Khanna told former Bay Area television reporter Randy Shandobil that civil disobedience is in his blood. Khanna's grandfather spent four years in an Indian jail opposing Britain's colonial rule.


"I have a family history and if it came to a point where I thought there was a deep moral injustice where they were rounding up folks who are living their lives and have been in this country, and they're splitting families," said Khanna."then I think I would, but that's nothing particularly special.

I think a lot of people in the Bay Area, from city council members to assemblymembers to members of Congress and grassroots activists, would. I think that's who we are."

Khanna said he specifically directed his local congressional office to prioritize aiding undocumented immigrants who seek help. "We have to stand up for basic humanity," he said.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Following deadlocked votes, Bonaccorsi wins appointment to Fremont City Council

Appointed Fremont Councilmember -elect 
David Bonaccorsi will be sworn-in on Feb. 7. 
Before taking a vote on choosing its next member, Fremont Councilmember Vinnie Bacon mildly joked about flipping a coin in case of a tie among any one of the eight applicants seeking an appointment to the City Council. It almost happened.

After a first-round tie among two applicants and four failed motions, the City Council finally found consensus and appointed recently termed out Fremont planning commissioner David Bonaccorsi,

Bonaccorsi will fill the remaining two years of Mayor Lily Mei. council term following her election to mayor last November.

During Bonaccorsi's interview earlier in the evening he exhibited a wide breadth of knowledge in city government, while preaching a desire for achieving consensus. Bonaccorsi spent 10 years on the Fremont planning commissioner.

"I'm a big cheerleader for all things Fremont," he told the council Tuesday evening. Bonaccorsi, who unsuccessfully sought an appointment to the City Council in 2013, also advocated strongly for building upon the city's performing arts scene.

The likelihood of Bonaccorsi winning the seat appeared remote after the initial vote featuring weighted votes for the top three candidates of each council member. The tally delivered only a pair of third-place votes for Bonaccorsi by way of Mei and Bacon.

Fremont activist Kathryn McDonald and Craig Steckler, a former Fremont police chief, both received a pair of first place votes, but also split the four remaining councilmembers.

Bacon, Councilmembers Raj Salwan and Rick Jones made impassioned pleas for each candidate, but ultimately failed to sway their colleagues. Subsequent motions to chose McDonald, Steckler and finalists Brannin Dorsey and Rakesh Sharma all registered 2-2 ties. Sharma finished fourth in the most recent council race won by Bacon and Salwan.

As the possibility of a deadlocked council neared, Bacon then motioned for Bonaccorsi and gained the vote of Jones to break the tie, 3-1. Salwan voted no.

Mayor LILY MEI: 1) Kathryn McDonald 2) Rakesh Sharma 3) David Bonaccorsi.
Councilmember VINNIE BACON: 1)McDonald 2) Sharma 3) Bonaccorsi.
Councilmember RICK JONES: 1) Craig Steckler 2) Brannin Dorsey 3) Reshma Karipineni.
Councilmember RAJ SALWAN 1) Steckler 2) Dorsey 3) Karipineni.

RESULTS: 1) McDonald/Stecker 6 points 2) Sharma/Dorsey 4 points 3) Bonaccorsi/Karipineni 2 points.

Oakland committee meeting abruptly ends after gunfire heard outside

OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | Blasts of gunfire rang just outside a session of an Oakland City Council committee hearing Tuesday afternoon.

The shooting, which earlier reports say included casualties, occurred during the City Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee meeting held in a small meeting room on the ground floor of Oakland City Hall.
 Eyewitness reports say the shooting occurred on Broadway and 14th Avenue, just across the street from Frank Ogawa Plaza.
Multiple gunshots were heard in the meeting room which led to the abrupt recess of the hearing.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Ignacio De La Fuente to be appointed to Oakland Coliseum JPA

Ignacio De La Fuente PHOTO/Shane Bond
COLISEUM JPA | In football terms, it's kind of like re-signing a former star quarterback, albeit, a bit past his prime, but the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority is about to add former Oakland Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente to its ranks.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors is set to approve De La Fuente's appointment to the eight-person board, which oversees the publicly-owned Oakland Coliseum and Oracle Arena.

De La Fuente replaces Mary Warren, who passed away last October at age 94. De La Fuente was nominated by Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, himself, a member of the Coliseum JPA. However, De La Fuente will be serving a new term that ends in January 2019.

One of Oakland's most savvy movers and shakers, De La Fuente's resume is unquestioned in East Bay politics. He served 20 years on the Oakland City Council and ran unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2006 and most recently in 2012 for the at-large council seat held by Rebecca Kaplan.

In the years since, rumors of De La Fuente's return to politics have be raised without panning out. De La Fuente also previously served on the Coliseum JPA.

With the issue of the Raiders staying in Oakland a high priority, De La Fuente's appointment to the JPA would make it two JPA commissioners, along with Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, who were involved in the now universally-reviled 1995 deal that brought the Raiders to Oakland from Los Angeles.

More than $100 million in stadium reconstruction debt still remains on the books at the city and county level. How the debt is remedied in conjunction with funding a new stadium for the Raiders in Oakland is viewed as a major stumbling block.

Federal judge overseeing Oakland police reforms to retire in August

Federal Judge Thelton Henderson
OAKLAND | Days after Oakland named its next police chief, Judge Thelton Henderson, who was tasked with pushing the struggling department to comply with more than a decade-long federal consent decree to reform its ranks, said he will retire in August, according toReuters.

Henderson, 83, told the news service that he simply doesn’t have the same amount of energy to do the job any longer. In addition, he also supervised the state’s prison healthcare system.

His retirement leaves questions as to how the Oakland police department’s will finally shed federal oversight that followed the infamous 2003 Riders case involving misconduct by its ranks.

In recent years, the department has slowly neared full compliance with the judge’s orders, but its conclusion has proven somewhat elusive.

But now, it will do so under a police chief following the selection of Anne Kirkpatrick last week and, now, a new judge, which will be selected randomly or by appointment, said Reuters.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Watch Barbara Lee have her mic cut while protesting Trump's electoral college vote

CONGRESS | 13TH DISTRICT | Oakland Rep. Barbara Lee sought to stop the certification of President-elect Donald Trump's electoral college victory Friday during a joint session of Congress.

Several members of the House Democratic Progressive Caucus attempted to protest the results, but without result, but only Lee's microphone was cut off during her remarks. [WATCH VIDEO ABOVE]

Like others, including Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) attempted to speak out before being cut off by Vice President Joe Biden.

EAST BAY CITIZEN PODCAST with Fremont City Council candidate and stem cell advocate ROMAN REED

Roman Reed
EPISODE 28 | Fremont needs to appoint a new council member following the surprising election of Lily Mei as mayor. One candidate for the appointment is Roman Reed, a Fremont planning commissioner with one of the most interesting back stories you will ever hear.

Reed sat down with me to discuss her plans for Fremont, along with his passion for finding cures for cancer, paralysis and other ailments that might one day be found using stem cells. He subsequently found the Roman Reed Foundation.

In 1994, Reed was paralyzed while playing football for Chabot College. As the school newspaper's sports editor, I witnessed Reed's injury and covered that fateful game.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

What’s up with Assemblymember Bill Quirk’s new portrait?

The new portrait of Assemblymember Bill Quirk, left, featured on his official website only vaguely looks like the three-term lawmaker. On the right, Quirk's old headshot.
ASSEMBLY | 20TH DISTRICT | For many state legislators, the beginning of a new session is a
good time for lawmakers to fully revamp or tweak the design of their official websites. For Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk the biggest change was not structural but a new headshot prominently featured on the site that just might give children nightmares.

Upon asking a member of Quirk’s district office about the photo, the response was quick. “Isn’t it awful?”

The photo of Quirk appears not only extremely photoshopped, but Quirk’s skin appears unnaturally mottled. The headshot also appears stretched vertically, giving Quirk the look of someone who has just undergone a facelift, or more frightening, that sometime since Election Day, the assemblymember morphed into some type of mutant vampire.

Quirk’s district office says they already notified the legislative department in charge of designing individual lawmaker’s websites about the photo. However, the department response was somewhat oblivious to the mistake, said Quirk's office. They found nothing peculiar about the new photo.

PREVIEW: East Bay Berners look to upend state Assembly district elections

Sen. Bernie Sanders campaigning in 
California last fall.
Hillary Clinton’s defeat last November revealed glaring cracks in the Democratic Party that might otherwise been glossed over if she had won the presidency. In many ways, the rise of Bernie Sanders and his populist message has reinvigorated the grassroots, even in the East Bay, where progressive principles have always stood front and center.

This weekend, Democrats, including activists inspired by Sanders’ campaign, have their first shot at bringing the tangible change to the party that they say is sorely needed. Politicos all over the state will elect seven men and seven women in each Assembly district during elections held this Saturday and Sunday.


In many cases delegate slates backed by local assemblymembers have a sizable advantage in these races, which are often filled with party insiders and union stalwarts. But in numerous cases across the East Bay, party outsiders with a vision of implementing Sanders’ ideas are hoping to change the status quo at the state Democratic Party level. Two candidates for delegate seats in 18th Assembly District representing Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro believe the area’s progressive leadership is quite satisfactory, but could be better.

Mindful that all politics is local, Alamedans Dan Wood and Gabrielle Dolphin believe realigning the national Democratic Party starts in the East Bay. “California needs to lead us in a progressive direction, but the East Bay needs to lead California. So we really are the epicenter,” said Wood.

To do this will need more voices demanding change within the state party and this weekend’s delegate elections offers a chance to create the party's next platforms over the next two year, while hoping to influence others. But neither Wood nor Dolphin want wholesale changes made to the party's already progressive platform. The impetus is to clear away the party’s old guard and institutional group-think.

“I want to be a voice that offers, if not an alternative to the status quo, then at least an angle at it so it can be shifted,” said Dolphin. “The most critical thing is to not allow the status quo to speak to itself. That bubble must be popped.”

She says many state Democrats insiders wrongly dismissed Sanders voters in the past. It's a group she believes the party will need in subsequent elections. “They have been ignored, put down, called babies and told, ‘You’re whining’ and that’s flat-out not true,” said Dolphin. In addition, the Democratic Party status quo is stocked with unions, “but labor has their own members to rally. They won’t have time to organize everybody else like we can do,” she said.

While holding up a half-sheet glossy direct-mail flyer paid for by Assemblymember Rob Bonta’s campaign committee, Dolphin added, “But we’re up against this." One side features a smiley Bonta, while the other details his chosen slate of delegates and their headshots. Some Oakland activists have criticized the slate for its lack of Latino candidates.

Some are friends of theirs and others each helped get elected to local office, Wood said of Bonta's slate. “I’ve known Rob Bonta for years and he’s a very progressive legislator and any district in the state would be lucky to have someone as progressive as he is. But yet, given the East Bay, he’s not that progressive. He’s the one kind of leading the status quo. He’s more of the politics as usual.”

Wood then pointed to a phrase prominently displayed on the Bonta mailer that declared, “Elect a team who will fight for our progressive values.”

“Notice it says, ‘our’ and not ‘yours’,” said Wood. “I wonder if nobody thought about that or was it a conscious choice?”

The “Groundswell Progressives” slate, which Wood and Dolphin are a part, is also backing Kimberly Ellis for chair of the California Democratic Party. But both repeatedly reject the idea that they and others are trying to continue the divide among Sanders and Clinton Democrats. “AD 18 would be okay with these people," Dolphin said of the Bonta slate. "We’re doing fine, but don’t let good be the enemy of great or best. The nation is saying the party has to change.”

For Wood, this era of political engagement is far different than his personal involvement more than a decade ago supporting Howard Dean for president. “Now it feels like I have a family of supporters behind me.” Dolphin then interjected: “That’s a gift that Bernie gave to the nation.”

All registered Democrats in each Assembly district are eligible to vote. Same-day party registration also allows residents to vote

AD15 Sat, Jan. 7, 11:30 a.m., Albany Community Room, Albany Library, 1247 Marin Avenue, Albany.
AD16: Sat, Jan. 7, 10 a.m., Lafayette Library, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd, Lafayette
AD18: Sat, Jan. 7, 9:30 a.m., Sheet Metal Workers Local 104 offices, 1720 Marina Blvd, San Leandro.
AD20: Sat, Jan. 7, 10 a.m., UFCW #5 offices, 28870 Mission Blvd, Hayward.
AD25 Sun, Jan. 8, 10:30 a.m., SEIU Local 521 offices, 2302 Zanker Road, San Jose.

Read full statements from each candidate here

AD15 MEN: Jared Ahmed, Brett Badelle, Lawrence Baskett, Matthew Batterton,Aaron Burgess, Vincent Casalaina, Ben Choi, Melvin Cowan, Charles Davidson, Spike DeClue, Hussain Gilani, Alex Knox, Gregory Lyman, Adrian Mixon, Ian Monroe, Devin Murphy, Jael Myrick, Abel Pineda, Max Porter, Sanjay Ranchod, Stuart Robbins, Julian Sanders, Harpreet Sandhu, Alejandro Soto-Vigil, Alfred Twu, Burt Vossen, Matthew Webster, Alexander White, Harry Wiener, Melvin Willis.

AD15 WOMEN: Kori Anderson, Judith Appel, Yelda Bartlett, Wendy Bloom, Becky Opsata, Kathy Chao Rothberg, Lara Cullinane-Smith, Jess Dervin-Ackerman, Erin Fredrick, Lanenna Joiner, Nancy Kerr, Hanna Kerns, Rashi Kesarwani, Beatriz Leyva-Cutler, Christina Murphy, Zenaida Musto, Suzannah Neufeld, Rachel Neumann, Stephanie Oxley, Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto, Seren Pendleton-Knoll, Jessica Powell, Katherine Rhoades, Karen Rothblatt, Katrina Saba, Julia Schnell, Joey Smith, Tora Spigner, Joanna Stevenson, Lynn Warner, Betty White, Selina Williams, Rita Xavier.
AD 16 MEN: Greg Bonato, Jeffrey Bowser, Bob Donovan, Leonard Dorin, Ellis Goldberg, John Hall, Aram Hodess, Shawn Kumagai, Robert Naylor, Connor Neill, Jerome Pandell, Scott Rafferty, Robert Seitelman, Karestell Smith, Oswell Smith, Asa Strout, Rob Sturm, David Sucha, Thomas Tellner, Mark Van Landuyt, Andrew Van Wye, Dean Wallace.

AD 16 WOMEN: Valerie Arkin, Amy Chen, Lynna Do, Lily Dorman Colby, Tandra Ericson, Heidi Gatty, Sharon Goldberg, Brodie Hilp, Jamie Hintzke, Alicia Hotchkiss, Anita Johnson, Ann Katzburg, Joan Laursen, Debra Look, Tanya Ludden, Cecelia McCloy, Amy Miller, Susmita Nayak, Melanie Neault, Susan Piekarsi, Rocio Ross, Samantha Rudy, Michelle Smith-McDonald, Kristina Sturm, Sabina Zafar, Renee Zeimer.
AD18 MEN: Josepth Baptiste, Michael Brannan, Evan Combs, Andrew Dadko, Karl Debro, Jeff DelBono, Sean Dugar, Dominick Dorothy, Guillermo Elenes, Michael Fortes, Keith Gibbs, Mike Henneberry, Paul Himmelstein, Tristan Hoffmann, Francis Hummel, Craig Isakow, Philip James, Doug Jones, Mike Katz-Lacabe, Morgan Kirschbaum, Isaac Kos-Read, Steven Joseph, Carter Lavin, Michael Lee, Vincent Leung, Jonathan Mill, Bill Schwulst, Jeromey Shafer, Sean Sullivan, Dan Wood.

AD18 WOMEN: Glenda Cabotaje, Eleanor Casson, Amber Childress, Lisa Cysewski, Gabrielle Dolphin, Kathleen Donohue, Lynette Gailord, Debra Grabelle, Lynette Gibson McElhaney, Gray Harris, Pamela Harris, Yvonne Hutchinson, Rabia Keeble, Alyce Lane, Maxine Oliver-Benson, Betty Olson-Jones, Elizabeth Ortega, Erin Poppler, Aditi Rao, Sarah Richardson, Rebeca Sanchez, Pheleta Santos, Mara Schechter, Leah Scheibe, Polly Springhorn, Merrin Stearns, Anne Stone, Mary Vail, Malia Vella, Andrea Warren, Breck Winokur, Tiffany Woods.  
AD20 MEN: Jerry Ahuja, Pavel Buzlea, Rocky Fernandez, Tim Horn, M H Koya, Frederic Morrison, William Pease, Seth Rediker, John Rendon, Gary Singh, Cullen Tiernan, Richard Valle, Andrew Wright.

AD20 WOMEN: Dolly Adams, Barbara Aro-Valle, Shaheerah Bradshaw, Amy Brooks, Sarabjit Cheema,Moira Dean, Raisa Donato, Brannin Dorsey, Michelle Gutierrez-Vo, Michelle Guzman, , Victoria Hudson, Michelle Jenkins, Jennifer Kassan, Rachel Lucas, Miki Nakamura, Jatinderpal Sahi, Diana Silva, Althea Weber-Whitfield.
AD25 MEN Tony Alexander, Chandru Bhambhra, Jitu Choudhury, Darminder Dewan, Tejinder Dhami, Alexander Ellebracht, Rajesh Gupta, Hosam Haggag, Sang Han, Rob Means, Frank Modic, Eric Ostgarden, Romesh Japra, Mahesh Pakala, William Rehbock, John Weed.

AD25 WOMEN Sajni Bhambhra, Alka Bnatnager, Veena Birla, Lorena Chavez, Betty Cole, Edwina Davies-Mendes, Karina Dominguez, Mary Donahue, Janet Giovannini-Hill, Madhu Gupta, Carmen Montano, Reena Rao, Shashi Relan, Rachael Shinno, Angela Tamayo, Sameena Usman, Kathleen Watanabe.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Bonta remembers Oakland Ghost Ship victims in Assembly speech

ASSEMBLY | 18TH DISTRICT | Wednesday was a day for Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta and other state legislators to return to work for the first session of the New Year.

But for Bonta, there was some unfinished business to tend to, remembering the 36 artists and musicians killed in last month’s Oakland warehouse fire.

Bonta adjourned Wednesday’s Assembly floor session by reading aloud the names of those killed in the blaze.

“These are souls we lost. We offer our condolences to their family and their friends,” said Bonta. “May their creativity and their commitment to the arts live on through all those who knew them.”

He added questions about building safety and code enforcement, along with additional affordable housing will be posed after the fallout of the tragedy.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


Anne Kirkpatrick is slated to become Oakland's
next police chief, according to reports.
OAKLAND | Anne Kirkpatrick, a former Spokane, Wash. police chief and current head of a Chicago police accountability task force, is set to be named Oakland's next police chief, according to numerous media reports.

Kirkpatrick, 56, will become Oakland's first female top cop and end a nearly seven month search for the replacement of former chief Sean Whent, who resigned in the midst of the police department's sexual misconduct scandal last spring.

OPD's recent difficulties surrounding misconduct of its officers appears well-tailored to Kirkpatrick's strengths. According to the Seattle Times, Kirkpatrick served with the FBI’s Law Enforcement Executive Development Association, focused on police discipline since 2014. After falling short of being hired to lead Chicago's police department, Kirkpatrick was tabbed just last June to lead its Bureau of Professional Standards.

The department was formed to implement reforms following the death of teenager Laquan McDonald, who was fatally shot 16 times by police.

After leading the Spokane Police Department for almost 10 years, Kirkpatrick appeared to have higher career aspirations, starting in 2010, when she was a finalist to become Seattle's police chief.

The hiring of Kirkpatrick also meshes with one of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf's preferences that the city's next police chief be a woman, following the wake of scandal involving numerous Oakland police officers and the underage sex worker known as "Celeste Guap."

Fremont City Council pares lengthy list of possible council appointees down to 8

Fremont Planning Commissioner Roman Reed
is one of eight possible candidates to fill Mayor
Lily Mei's council term. 
Twenty-seven Fremont residents applied to fill out the remaining two years of Lily Mei’s council term, following her election to mayor in November. On Tuesday night, the number was narrowed by the Fremont City Council to eight candidates.

The group, which includes five current planning commissioners, will be interviewed for the appointment on Jan. 10.

As stipulated by the council, applicants receiving a minimum of two votes from the remaining four councilmembers advanced to next week’s interviews. They include a number of experienced city commissioners and candidates from last November’s City Council election.

Fremont planning commissioners David Bonaccorsi, Reshma Karipineni, Brannin Dorsey and Roman Reed all moved on to the next round.

Former Fremont Police Chief Craig Steckler
also made the cut Tuesday night.
Former Fremont Police Chief Craig Steckler also advanced. He ran unsuccessfully for the state Assembly in 2014 and also sits on the planning commission.

Two recent council candidates also made the cut, including Rakesh Sharma, who finished fourth in the race that placed the top two finishers on the council, along with also-ran Cullen Tiernan.

Another in the running for the council seat is Kathryn McDonald, a member of the Fremont Unified School District’s Citizens Bond Oversight Committee.

The Jan. 10 meeting is expected to be lengthy with roughly 10 questions posed to each of the eight candidates, said Fremont Deputy City Manager Karena Shackleford. The meeting will begin at 5 p.m., rather than the customary 7 p.m. start time. Each candidate will be sequestered before their individual interviews, which may run between 30-40 minutes.

It's Congressman Khanna now

Rep. Ro Khanna, his wife, Ritu Ahuja and Speaker
Paul Ryan Tuesday during a ceremonial swearing-in.
Rep. Ro Khanna's first order of business Tuesday morning was to register a voice vote in support of House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The seemingly mundane first act marked a new era in South Bay politics and ends Khanna's long quest for a seat in Congress.

Later in the day, Khanna and others took part in a ceremonial swearing-in with House Speaker Paul Ryan, essentially a glorified photo opportunity and keepsake for members of Congress to pose with family and friends.

In a short clip from C-SPAN's coverage of the monotonous, hours-long ceremony SHOWN HERE, Khanna, his wife, parents and in-laws briefly hobnobbed with Ryan.

Khanna took the oath of office by placing his left hand on a special bicentennial edition of the U.S. Constitution.

In a posting on the website Medium, Khanna set the tone of his first term with a short posting detailing his hopes for the future of the district.

"We need bold ideas and sound policies that provide opportunities to those our changing economy and technological revolution has left behind and invest in policies that support working families to better prepare all children for the future," wrote Khanna. "The corruption of big money in politics and lobbying by powerful special interests have soiled our democracy, and I will work to enact reforms to make government truly work for the people."

Khanna's first day in Congress also represented a moment likely never seen in the 16 years his predecessor Mike Honda held the office, support for a far right-wing Republican's proposal.

In a tweet Tuesday evening, Khanna said he backs a plan backed by Tea Party adherent Sen. Ted Cruz for a constitutional amendment enacting congressional term limits. Last month, Khanna issued similar support for such a plan similar to the 12-year limits set by the California State Legislature.

Guv hopeful, Delaine Eastin, officially opens campaign account

Delaine Eastin for Governor 2018 is up and running.
GOVERNOR | Former East Bay lawmaker Delaine Eastin's bid for California governor is officially open for business.

"Eastin for Governor 2018" was registered with the state Secretary of State's office on Tuesday. However, the campaign's coffers are literally bare. No activity is shown.

It's a stark difference with her likely opponents, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newson and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who dueled Tuesday in a match of which candidate could boast more about their campaign largess.

Earlier in the day, Villaraigosa said he had matched expectations by raising $2.7 million in campaign contribution, a figure that exceeded expectations.
Later, in a bid to possibly assuage any early fears about Newsom's own campaign finances, he also announced $2.7 million in contributions over the same period, but also an additional $11.5 million in separate accounts.
Meanwhile, Eastin's decidedly long-shot bid for governor after more than 13 years out of public office is not without some strengths. For one, the lack of potential female candidates in the 2018 race favors Eastin as does her extensive experience.

She began her political career on the Union City City Council, followed by eight years in the Assembly. Most voters statewide are familiar with Eastin after she served as state superintendent of instruction. She was termed out of office in 2002.

Supervisor Keith Carson calls for engagement with Trump voters

Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson
More than 61 million Americans voted for Donald Trump, including 215,000 in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, wrote Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson in an op-ed Monday. Yet, despite the differences of opinion, engagement is needed for the country and local populace to move forward, he wrote.

"My father always taught us that while we may not always accept the opinions of others, we must respect the opinions of others. For many of us living in this complex world, this concept is becoming more challenging with each passing day," wrote Carson, who has represented parts of Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville and Albany on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors since 1993.

"Together we must begin an authentic dialogue with one another, even with those of different opinions," he added.

The call for reconciliation and dialogue between the very large local progressive voting bloc and the small band of local moderates and conservatives who backed Trump for president is not uncommon for Carson, known widely as one of the East Bay's most thoughtful statesmen. Carson also called on local faith-based and community organizations to "initiate these conversations in earnest at the ground level."

"Doing so can highlight that despite our differences of skin color, sexual orientation, religious belief, or economic status, we have far more in common," he wrote. "We share the desires of a better future for our community and to live in peace, to develop to our maximum potential, and to genuinely embrace those who may be different from us."

The sentiment offered by Carson, however, is markedly different from the sometimes angry calls of "resistance" to much of Trump's stated or unstated plans following his inauguration on Jan. 20. State leaders, including some local lawmakers, have also chosen to pepper their rhetoric against Trump in confrontational terms.

Last Dec. 5, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon declared “Californians should be wary of the national calls for unity and healing. Unity must be separated from complicity. And we must be defiant whenever justice, fairness, and righteousness require. He added, “Californians do not need healing. We need to fight."