Apr 132014
 

public-vs-privateDon’t Ask Politicians Why Their Kids go to Private School

Elections have this way of getting the worst out of people.  The line between the personal and the political can be both thin and fuzzy, and it’s easy to miss.

One topic that should remain out of bounds for all political candidates are the children of their opponents, in particular when those children are minors.  It doesn’t matter if those children are holy terrors, there is no place in a legitimate campaign to make an issue out of a child’s behavior, personality, personal appearance, hobbys or education.  The last example bears  repeating because while many candidates understand that calling a candidate’s child a spoiled brat is not acceptable, they think that it’s OK to question why a candidate is sending their children to private schools.

At first glance, the question may seem legitimate. After all, where a parent decides to send their kid to school may very well be an indication of their values.  Trouble is, it is just as likely that it’s an indication of the private personal needs of the child.   I know children that are in private schools because these serve their learning or developmental disabilities better.  I know children who have gender-identity issues and do not feel safe in public schools.  I know kids who had to flee public school because they were bullied, beaten or worse by other students and the school failed to protect them.  I know children who were taken out of public school to separate them from bad influences.  And I even know kids who were taken out of public school because they were the bad influence.

All these kids have a right to privacy.  Just because their mom or their dad is running for office, it doesn’t entitle us, voters, to know what specific issue challenges them.  It is also not fair, and not good public policy, to make parents have to chose between running for office or keeping their children’s condition private.

Sure, by not asking the question “why aren’t your children in public school?”, we might leave some candidates without good reasons off the hook.  But I think the greater goal of keeping the privacy of children makes worth giving up on that small bit of information.  Chances are that a politician whose values are different from those voters will show this in ways beyond where he sends his kids to school.

 Update:  A School Board member suggested that for candidates running for educational offices, their personal experience as parents in a public school district is very important, as it shows they understand the system from within.  I agree, therefore I will modify my suggestion to indicate that candidates can be asked if any of their children have attended public school, and leave it at that.

I also don’t oppose asking candidates who have previously used the fact that their children attend public school as a campaign issue, whether their children are still in public school.

 

Apr 112014
 

Democrat DonkeyThis Saturday March 12, the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee will hold interviews for local candidates seeking the Democratic endorsement in the June elections.

The Executive Committee interviewed candidates previously and voted to put a number of them in the consent calendar.  Any two members of the Committee can pull nominees from consent, or nominate other candidates.  To qualify for the endorsement, candidates must be registered Democrats and pay a $50 fee.  They must receive 60% of the votes cast on Saturday to get the Party’s endorsement.  Voting is done by personified ballot and requires a signature of the member voting.  Ballots are kept by the Committee Chair and should be made available to those seeking to examine them.

I will be casting my vote on Saturday and would appreciate your comments on which candidates I should support or not support or what question you want me to pose to them.  You can leave them below or e-mail me at margalacabe@gmail.comI start with the premise that no candidate should get the Democratic endorsement unless they represent the values that the party itself should stand for: a commitment to social justice and civil liberties, transparency and accountability – as well as competency. 

At the last Committee meeting in early April, the ACDCC also voted to endorse five tax measures that will appear on the June ballot.

The following candidates have been placed in the consent calendar for the Democratic endorsement:

Running in uncontested races:

  • Richard Valle, for Alameda County Supervisor District 2
  • Wilma Chan, for Alameda County Supervisor District 4
  • Nancy O’Malley, for District Attorney
  • Donald White, for Treasurer/Tax Collector
  • Aisha Knowles, for Alameda County Board of Education District 4 (not on ballot)
  • Jennifer Toy, for Union Sanitary District Director Ward 3 (not on ballot)

Running in contested races:

The following are the candidates that have been nominated for the endorsement.  They will be interviewed on Saturday.

Alameda County Auditor-Controller / Clerk-Recorder

Incumbent Auditor-Controller Patrick O’Connell tried to pull a fast one on voters and get his Chief Deputy in place by pretending he was going to run for re-election and then not filing.  San Leandran Kati Knox noticed and pulled papers for the race.   Manning is likely to win in June on the strength of his ballot designation alone.

Alameda County Superintendent of Schools

Absent from the list of nominees is Helen Foster, a teacher/school administrator and member of the San Lorenzo School Board.

Karen Monroe is the designee of the current Superintendent, Sheila Jordan, which has created a degree of mistrust in political circles. However, she is doing the job and seems to be doing it competently.

Jeff Bowser, a School Board member from Pleasanton, enjoys strong support among political figures in the tri-valley and has hired ACDCC Executive Committee member Angela Ramirez-Holmes as a campaign consultant.  He has worked for the county district before and appears competent.  However, as a School Board member he tried to stop parents from addressing the board on a specific item, in violation of the Brown Act.

I know very little about Naomi Eason, other than the fact she used to have Monroe’s job.  Apparently she displeased Jordan somehow and was fired. I’m looking forward to hearing from her.

I have written extensively about the lack of basic competence and ability to think independently that Ursula Reed has demonstrated as a member of the San Leandro City Council.  I am frankly worried about what she would do if elected Superintendent.  Needless to say, I will not be voting for her.  However, she does enjoy the support of a powerful group within the Committee.  Linda Perry, her treasurer, is also a member of the Executive Committee.

I don’t think it’s likely that any of the candidates will receive enough votes to get the Democratic endorsement.  My own current intention is to vote “no endorsement”, unless one of the candidates does manage to wow me in the interview.

Hayward City Council

Also running for the 2 spots on the city-wide race are Phillip Gallegos, a Performing Arts technician, and Ralph Farias, a Republican businessman.

As mentioned above, Ryan “Rocky” Fernandez, a former AC Transit Board member and district director for Assembly Member Bob Weickowski, is on the consent calendar for the endorsement, so only one of the four candidates above will qualify.

As an incumbent, Marvin Peixoto should be a shoo-in for the endorsement, but many Democrats are unhappy with all current Hayward City Council members because of their vote to cut employee salaries and criminalize homelessness, among others.  Peixoto has the support of Supervisor Richard Valle, a member of the Committee.  He has received campaign contributions from the Palace Poker Casino in Hayward ($1261) and assemblymember-turned-lobbyst Johan Klehs ($250).

Sara Lamnin is well regarded and received the endorsement when she ran for School Board in 2012. She’s a progressive, with strong commitments to social justice and civil liberties.  She also has a lot of government experience, is the current Chair of the Planning Commission and the Former Chair of Hayward Citizen’s Advisory Commission.  At this point, I am planning to vote for her.  Her campaign treasurer is Linda Perry, a member of the ACDCC’s Executive Committee.

Rodney Loché, a planning commissioner does development for an organization that works to find jobs for people with disabilities.  He is also being supported by Palace Poker Casino, which has so far given him $1229.  He has hired Angela Ramirez-Holmes, a member of the ACDCC’s Executive Committee, as a campaign consultant.

Julie McKillop is the owner of Neumali restaurant in Hayward, active in the Chamber of Commerce and endorsed by them.  I had a bad dining experience at Neumanli, which she did not handle well so I’m not predisposed to think highly of her.  She does seem to be a favorite of assemblymember-turned-lobbyst Johan Klehs who has given her $500 so far. Still, I’m looking forward to hear why she’s running.

Zone 7 Water District Director

This is up in the tri-valley.  Seven candidates are running for 4 positions, including the four incumbents.  Three of the candidates, and two of the incumbents, are Democrats.  One of the incumbents, Sarah Palmer, is on the consent calendar. The other Democratic incumbent, A.J. Machaevich, has not been nominated.  That leaves Matt Morrison as the only candidate that will be interviewed.  Morrison is an environmental activist and I was among those nominating him. I also look forward to hear from him.

The endorsement  interviews will take place tomorrow morning starting at 10 AM at UFCW Local 5, 28870 Mission Boulevard, Hayward.

Apr 092014
 
No Record of Complaints against E-Cigarettes in San Leandro

City Moves to Ban E-Cigarettes Despite Lack of Complaints About Their Use Last Month, the San Leandro City Council was set pass amendments to the City’s anti-smoking ordinance, as part of the consent calendar, that would prohibit the use of e-cigarettes to consume tobacco or marijuana everywhere where tobacco smoking cigarettes is prohibited today.  The ordinance also included a ban of smoking medical marijuana in private residences and after complaints by citizens Mayor Stephen Cassidy decided to take it off the agenda and bring it back, in an amended format, some time this month. The staff report that accompanied the [Continue Reading]

Mar 212014
 
Alameda County Democratic Central Committee to Vote to Censure Me

I May Be Responsible for the FPPC Investigating the Committee I recognize that writing this article has the potential of hurting me – and even my husband – politically.  However, I believe that I have a responsibility to keep my constituents informed about what’s going on in the ACDCC, even when the subject is discomfiting to myself.  At the last Alameda County Democratic Central Committee (ACDCC) meeting earlier this month, Robin Torello, the Committee’s Chair, announced that the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) was investigating the Committee for campaign finance law violations.  The ACDCC’s Executive Committee had hired lawyers, [Continue Reading]

Mar 142014
 
San Leandro Moves to Ban Medical Marijuana in Multi-Family Housing

Ban extends to e-cigarettes, Public not given notice UPDATE: After I sounded the alarm on this issue, Mayor Cassidy took the item off the agenda for the March 17th meeting.  He claims that the prohibition of smoking/vaping marijuana in multi-family homes was included by mistake.  He says a revised ordinance will come back for a vote in April.  The revised ordinance, however, is also injurious to medical marijuana patients, as they will not be able to take their medicine safely when they’re away from their homes. – The San Leandro City Council sneaked a very controversial issue into its agenda [Continue Reading]