Friday, March 31, 2017

EBC AGENDA -- Mar 31-Apr 6 -- Rent rehash in ALAMEDA -- BILL QUIRK takes on balloons -- FREMONT begins council reforms

Saturday is April Fool's Day. Sadly this first item isn't a prank. The city of Hayward is celebrating the life of labor leader Cesar Chavez at City Hall on Saturday morning. Aside from Chavez's inspiring accomplishments within the labor movement, the event should have additional importance in Hayward, which has the East Bay's largest concentration of Latinos.

Here's why the ghost of Cesar Chavez might be restless since the Hayward City Council, save one member who was not on the council at the time, voted to impose wage cuts on nearly 300 of its city workers three years ago. The decision, hotly-contested by SEIU Local 1021, was later deemed illegal by the state. Nevertheless, expect many councilmembers to be in attendance Saturday to laud Chavez. In addition, it's almost a certainty Chavez would not take kindly to Hayward's embarrassing foot-dragging recently when it comes to declaring sanctuary city status.

--Back to City Halls across the East Bay -- Here's the highlights:

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Recent FCC ruling may undermine San Leandro's WiFi network

San Leandro's public WiFi network, part of
Lit San Leandro, could be affected by the
FCC's ruling in February.
San Leandro’s downtown fiber-optics loop, known as Lit San Leandro, is often viewed as the catalyst for the city’s transformation from factory town to burgeoning tech manufacturing hub. It’s no wonder city officials are concerned over a ruling issued by the Federal Communications Commission in late February that could potentially undermine the performance of the public Wi-Fi portion of the network in favor of major telecoms and their customers.

FFC commissioners voted Feb. 22 to authorize cell phone carriers to begin use of the unlicensed five gigahertz band for new devices known as LTE-U. San Leandro’s public Wi-Fi network operates on the same unlicensed band, although running parallel. Telecoms have pushed for this ability in order to ease periodic burdens on its own licensed networks due to Internet use by its customers. But there is significant disagreement whether or not unlicensed Wi-Fi networks will be affected by the new ruling.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

After defeat of Trumpcare, Lee tells town hall to 'stay woke'

East Bay Rep. Barbara Lee at a town hall
Saturday at Laney College in Oakland.
Uplifted by the failure of the House Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and a bit exhausted following a red-eye from Washington, Rep. Barbara Lee told another large town hall to focus on the GOP's plan to cut taxes for the rich.

"First of all, let me say it's good to be home for a couple of minutes," Lee said to constituents at the early Saturday morning town hall at Laney College in Oakland. Lee arrived in the East Bay just after midnight and planned on returning to Washington later in the afternoon.

Monday, March 27, 2017

With Raiders departure, Oakland once again sticks it to 'The Man'

The NFL announced approval Monday for the
Raiders relocation to Las Vegas. The team is
scheduled to play in Oakland through 2018.
Raise a banner from the rafters at Oakland City Hall! By refusing to acquiesce to the threats of the Raiders and the National Football League, the city proved once again that the East Bay rests in the bluest county in the bluest state in the country. From an entirely political standpoint, it’s no surprise the East Bay would stand firm against the NFL and the type of extortion it applies in nearly every city with a franchise. In fact, Oakland has fought back against corporate greed time and again over the past few years.

This is a region represented by the intensely popular Rep. Barbara Lee, likely the most rock-solid progressive in all of Congress. Oakland is a city that through a small band of activists almost single-handedly turned back the rapidly-creeping surveillance state attempting to put eyes and ears at the Port of Oakland, various points on public streets and even schools. This is where Occupy flourished on the west coast, in addition, to other protest movements, such as Black Lives Matter. Oakland is where city council meetings are forcibly shut down by housing activists.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Schaaf delivers emotional call for Raiders to stay in Oakland

Oakland Raiders fan displays his displeasure
with the team's intention of moving to Vegas.
With the clock admittedly winding down, Mayor Libby Schaaf launched a passionate, sometimes defiant effort Saturday to keep the Raiders in Oakland. NFL Owners could possibly vote on allowing the team to relocate to Las Vegas as early as Monday.

Oakland’s seemingly last-ditch effort includes a pledge from the Ronnie Lott-backed investment group offering a similar loan reportedly backed by Bank of America to build a retractable-dome stadium in Las Vegas. NFL executives reportedly are balking at the existence of the Oakland Athletics at the Coliseum, along with a persistent gripe against the city’s inclusion of a third-party developer.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Rob Bonta on private prisons: ‘They have a duty to shareholders, not to California’

East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta wants California to cease doing business with for-profit private prisons. Bonta introduced legislation Thursday that would prevent the renewal of state contracts with private prison operators by 2018.

EBC AGENDA -- Mar. 24-30 -- Hail Mary for RAIDERS? -- SAN LEANDRO'S State of the City -- ALCO PUBLIC DEFENDER gets $$ for immigrants legal services

A quiet week in East Bay government is on the horizon, although, not surprising for the end of the month. Nevertheless, "resistance" to President Trump and his policies continue to erupt or constantly percolate all over the East Bay. This also could be the week when the long-running saga over the Raiders future in Oakland finally ends, but does Mayor Libby Schaaf have something up her sleeve?

NFL owners could schedule a vote allowing the Oakland Raiders to relocate to Las Vegas on Monday, according to several reports. Noted NFL insider Jason LaCanfora believes it's a done deal.

--After being a skeptic throughout this process and especially in the aftermath of owner Mark Davis’ deal with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson falling apart around the Super Bowl, there are too many people I trust telling me this has become basically a fait accompli for me to deny it any longer," wrote LaCanfora on CBSSports.com.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Oakland city attorney files amicus brief opposing Trump’s sanctuary city executive order

Oakland is joining 33 other cities nationwide in aiding Santa Clara County’s lawsuit against President Trump’s executive order that threatens sanctuary cities and counties with the loss of federal funding.

The lawsuit filed on Feb. 3 seeks an injunction against the executive order. Oakland has long declared itself a sanctuary city and reaffirmed its status last December amid rhetoric posed by then president-elect Trump against immigrants and religious groups.

San Leandro picks lower than expected tax on medical cannabis

Many government entities are expected to take their own cut in the form of taxes from the burgeoning cannabis industry, but San Leandro is choosing to give businesses and patients a small break.

The San Leandro City Council decided this week to start its cannabis business tax rate at a rate of 6 percent. The rate rises to 7 percent in July 2019 and again to 8 percent by 2021.

With 'lightning speed' Fremont moves to district elections, may expand council to seven

Fremont's potential move from at-large to district-based elections represents the most stunning change to how the city chooses its elected leaders since its founding, said Fremont City Attorney Harvey Levine. The switch is also occurring at "lightning speed," he added during testimony before the Fremont City Council on Tuesday night.

With the type of swiftness that usually arrives via the threat of a potentially-costly lawsuit, Fremont is poised to radically change how it elects members to the city council, in addition, to possibly expanding the number of seats from the current five to seven.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Struggling St. Rose Hospital gets $8 million lifeline from county

Hayward's St. Rose Hospital is still facing
a $6 million budget deficit this fiscal year.
Hayward's St. Rose Hospital is Southern Alameda County's main provider of indigent health care. This fact also means the hospital continually struggles to keep its doors open due to the number of Medi-Cal patients its sees on a daily basis, roughly 50 percent.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday sought to alleviate St. Rose Hospital's chronic financial problems by allocated $8 million in funding to the facility. The funding is expected to be parlayed into an additional $6.5 million in federal matching grants, bringing the total to over $14 million.

Hayward City Council is open to dabbling in cannabis

Hayward city leader have shied away from the
cannabis industry over the past seven years.
The Hayward City Council is now on track to allow cannabis businesses in the city at some point in the near future. During a work session Tuesday night there appeared to be unanimity in favor of Hayward dipping its toes into the burgeoning cannabis industry.

The City Council appeared amendable to allowing cannabis businesses to open shop, possibly including cultivation and manufacturing in its industrial areas, while also rezoning some areas for retail medical dispensaries in addition to recreational sales.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Oakland approves city ban on companies hoping to build Trump's wall

Oakland Councilmember Abel Guillen's
legislation rebuking the building of Trump's
wall was approved Tuesday night.
If a business specializing on a gamut of services from construction to internet services to public relations wants to help build President's Trump controversial southern border wall, they won't be able to enter into contracts with Oakland, the City Council unanimously declared Tuesday night.

Oakland becomes the second city in the East Bay and nationally to pass such a resolution viewed as a rebuke of Trump's policies against immigrants.

Nadia Lockyer posts alarmingly cryptic message on Facebook

Nadia Lockyer has made allegations against her
husband Bill Lockyer on Facebook in past.
Former Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer wrote an alarming message on Facebook Sunday that sounded to some as a suicide note while briefly alarming her friends. At minimum, Lockyer’s comments were yet another public outcry against her husband, former California State Senate Pro Tem and Attorney General Bill Lockyer, including a reference to drugs.

“My children are the reason i’ve held on this long…but bill’s controlling ways, drugs, and dishonesty publicly have killed me, everything i ever wanted to do to help others, all about my heritage and purpose in life…i’m so very tired of carrying his cross…and my children suffer becuz of it. i can’t put them through it anymore. sabrina, anja, marisa, luke, mark, erik….please take care of my babies. goodbye,” wrote Nadia Lockyer.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Threat of lawsuit is pushing Fremont toward district elections

Significant changes for how Fremont chooses
its elected officials could be on the horizon
over the next few years.
Fremont’s use of “at-large” elections violates state law, says a Southern California attorney who has successfully sued other cities by arguing the voting method has been shown to unfairly diminishing the chances of minorities, especially Latino candidates from winning elections. The complaint’s desired effect appears to be working. A Fremont staff report recommends city officials begin the process of shifting to district-based elections in coming years based, in large part, by a potential legal bill that could exceed $1 million.

The complaint letter sent by Malibu-based attorney Kevin Shenkman last month asks the city to begin the switch from at-large elections to district-based system or face a lawsuit under the California Voting Right Act (CVRA).

Friday, March 17, 2017

Why is Eric Swalwell allowing himself to be Tucker Carlson's punching bag?

Rep. Eric Swalwell appearing with Tucker
Carlson on Fox News in January.
Take it from me, Rep. Eric Swalwell typically responds to tough questioning by fleeing the scene in order to avoid confrontations with his allegedly political sins. Knowing this, it seems highly peculiar that Swalwell continually agrees to appear on Tucker Carlson's Fox News program in what amounts to every time an embarrassing pummeling at the hands of the conservative talk show host.

As many have noticed in recent weeks, Swalwell has been a cable news talking head on an almost daily basis. On more friendly turf, such as Thursday on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews," Swalwell is confident and sharp with his repeated criticisms of President Trump and his alleged ties to Russia.

Few Hayward elected officials support starting public discussion of sanctuary cities

Hayward Councilmember Elisa Marquez
says she supports becoming a sanctuary city.
While many East Bay city councils have offered almost unanimous support for defying President Trump and his immigration policies, Hayward is a notable outlier. Even the politically moderate city of Dublin agendized a discussion on sanctuary cities last week before shooting it down.

But in Hayward, elected officials have remained silent, while the stirrings of its large minority communities in support of becoming a sanctuary city become more noticeable.

The reason for the Hayward City Council's apparent inaction is simple, said Hayward Councilmember Elisa Marquez, there is no current support among elected officials to even start a discussion about sanctuary cities, let alone approve a resolution.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

San Leandro proposes tax rate on cannabis purchases

San Leandro's initial tax rate on cannabis
purchases could start at 7 percent, according
to a city staff report.
San Leandro city staff is proposing a tax rate on cannabis purchases that would exceed Oakland and Berkeley.

Next week, the San Leandro City Council will be presented with a cannabis business tax that would begin at 7 percent of gross receipts through June 2018 and gradually increase to 9 percent by 2021, according to the proposal.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Hayward officials showing resistance to becoming sanctuary

Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday, center, and
City Manager Kelly McAdoo, left, at an anti-
discrimination task force meeting last Monday.
Hayward stands to risk $33 million in current and future federal funding if it becomes a sanctuary city, several city officials reiterated Monday night during a city task force meeting on anti-discrimination. The moniker also provides no additional relief for residents fearful of the Trump administration’s stance toward immigration, they said. Hayward City Manager Kelly McAdoo said declaring itself a sanctuary city may give residents a “false sense of security.”

“We have to honest with people,” said interim Hayward Police Chief Mark Koller. “Local police departments don’t have the authority to stop the federal government from carrying out their laws any more than we can’t stop the I.R.S. from going after tax evaders." He added, “We don’t want to build up hopes.”

Monday, March 13, 2017

How Trump is already wreaking havoc on affordable housing in the East Bay

FOR MANY IN THE EAST BAY, the early days of Donald Trump’s presidency have been at worst, an all-out assault on American democracy. At minimum, a excruciating daily mockery of common decency. But the reality television show most in the East Bay view on cable news can seem far away from our daily lives.

Last week, several city governments in the East Bay were directly impacted by President Trump’s rhetoric. Literally from Trump’s puckered mouth to negative financial implications for six affordable housing projects in Oakland, San Leandro, Alameda and Fremont.

Oakland and San Leandro make banking statements

San Leandro Councilmember Benny Lee is
leading the push for divestment of Wells Fargo.
Big banks took a big hit in East Bay politics last week. The Oakland City Council voted to cease its relationship with JP Morgan Chase. Then quickly reversed an apparently haphazard decision after realizing, on second thought, the absence of a banking account would likely mean its 5,000 city employees wouldn’t be receiving a paycheck this month.

Meanwhile, in San Leandro, city leaders followed Alameda in beginning an early study for possible divestment from Wells Fargo and other institutions helping finance the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Guillén says Oakland won’t help build Trump’s ‘big, beautiful wall’

Oakland Councilmember Abel Guillén's plan
to stymie Trump's wall will be heard Mar. 14.
If President Trump’s ballyhooed wall on the southern border is ever constructed, it will have been done without the help of companies doing business with the city of Oakland, according to a council resolution authored by Councilmember Abel Guillén.

“A government should reflect the values and goals of the community it serves. Oakland has historically been and remains today a diverse community, with a great many of its residents having come as immigrants and refugees from all corners of the globe,” said Guillén.

Eden Health District CEO to retire this summer

Dev Mahadevean has served as Eden
Health District CEO for nine years.
Eden Health District CEO Dev Mahadevan announced Friday that he is retiring, effective July 1, after nine years leading the day-to-day operations of the central Alameda County health care agency.

During Mahadevan’s tenure the district (known previously as the Eden Township Healthcare District) greatly expanded its financial holdings, including the construction of medical offices on Lake Chabot Road in Castro Valley and Dublin Gateway Center. At the same time losing operational control of both of its hospitals, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley and San Leandro Hospital.

Tony Thurmond eyeing statewide office in 2018; others already coveting his Assembly seat

Assemblymember Tony Thurmond may be
itching for a move to higher office in 2018.
After just one term representing Richmond, Berkeley and parts of Oakland in the 15th Assembly District, Tony Thurmond is showing strong interest in running for the state superintendent of public instruction seat opening in the fall of 2018, according to numerous sources with knowledge of his plans.

Rumors of Thurmond's interest in succeeded soon-to-be termed out State Superintendent Tom Torlakson have been bandied about in recent months by many East Bay politicos.

Hayward mayor offends Latina advocating for sanctuary city

Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday, leader of one
of the largest Latino communities, in the Bay Area
voiced skepticism Feb. 24 about sanctuary cities.
Hayward's lack of urgency when it comes to alleviating the fears among its minority and immigrant communities is unique in the Greater East Bay. Since January, city councils in Emeryville, Alameda, San Leandro and Fremont have become sanctuary cities, while Oakland and Berkeley have recently reaffirmed existing declarations.

But curiously, Hayward, with one of the largest Latino populations in the Bay Area, has taken a slow bureaucratic track toward protection its immigrant and Muslim communities. Instead, the Hayward City Council chose in January to convene a large 22-person task force to update its existing anti-discrimination policy.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Fremont, Dublin with diverging opinions about sanctuary cities

Dublin Councilmember Abe Gupta offered likely
the most vociferous opposition to sanctuary 
cities of any official in Alameda County.
Fremont became the sixth East Bay city to declare it a sanctuary city and become the fourth to do so this year. The spreading of sanctuary cities across the Alameda County has accelerated with President’s Trump’s heated rhetoric against minorities and a threat by way of executive order to punish the designation.

On the same night, however, residents in Dublin and its city officials roundly dismissed the movement.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Alameda approves resolution urging investigation of Trump, possible impeachment

A resident offers support Tuesday night for
the Alameda City Council's resolution 
to impeach President Trump.
Alameda’s sharp left turn on the political spectrum continued late Tuesday night with a resolution giving support to Rep. Barbara Lee for the urging of Congress to investigate and potentially impeach President Donald Trump.

The East Bay island city follows nearby Richmond in approving the resolution that is gaining strong support among Bay Area progressives.

But the resolution appeared headed to defeat before a dramatic comeback aided in part by a plea from Councilmember Jim Oddie to Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft to reconsider her stated intention to abstain, and thereby subduing the resolution.

Kate Harrison wins Berkeley City Council special election

Kate Harrison leads Ben Gould by more than
500 votes in Tuesday's special election.
Kate Harrison is cruising to victory in Tuesday night’s special election for the open Berkeley City Council District 4 seat.

Early results from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters Tuesday night show Harrison leading Ben Gould by a 550-vote margin.

The seat was vacated last November upon former District 4 representative Jesse Arreguin’s election as mayor.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Since when did Alameda become an island of progressive activism?

WHEN A FEW DROPS OF BLOOD from a protesting renter hit the floor at City Hall in November 2015, something seemed to have changed in Alameda’s politics.

A grassroots renters group flooded City Hall that night urging the council to enact an ordinance with strong rent control restrictions, but some of the renters wouldn’t take no for an answer and attempted to storm the room in an effort to briefly “occupy” the chambers. There was yelling, a cop was pushed, a city department head broke his hip, and one man’s face was smashed to the ground leaving a round smear of his blood on the ground.

There was unanimity in the local media’s reaction: "Protests in Alameda?” said one anchorman. To others, the scene was something that only happens at the more raucous Oakland City Council chambers, surely not pastoral Alameda.

In the subsequent year and a half, a number of other actions precipitated by an organized and very active grassroots, along with a new council majority and, of course, the presidency of Donald Trump, have turned Alameda into one of the most unlikeliest hot beds of progressive action in the East Bay.

Alameda County may be poised to sue President Trump

Just days after an executive order signed by President Trump in late January amounted to a shot across the bough of sanctuary cities, Santa Clara County and San Francisco asked a federal judge to block the order.

Alameda County, which is also a declared sanctuary county, may soon follow suit. A closed session briefing on the matter is scheduled for Tuesday morning's Board of Supervisors meeting. The Santa Clara and San Francisco Counties lawsuits are referenced on the agenda.