In order to better get to know the candidates for San Leandro offices, I sent out a questionnaire to all candidates with questions provided by San Leandro residents and relevant to San Leandro. I will be posting the answers as I receive them.
Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire
1- Do you have a website, Facebook Smart Voter page with more information about you and your platform?
NSFW/Adults Only Recommended/ Open & Independent Minds Only / Parental Guidance Suggested / Neo-Cons Neo-Libs will be annoyed thoroughly
Ask me anything: firstname.lastname@example.org
2- What is your political philosophy?
Independent (Non-Partisan) Groovy Libertarian.
I am a moderate (hence the Groovy qualifier) politically, but a strong anti-corporatist and especially anti-Statist-corruption and market/economic malfeasance.
I am entirely against any theocracy in my democracy.
3- How do you evaluate when to stick by your principles and when to compromise?
Ethical boundaries are a big thing with me. Is this appropriate conduct? Is anyone being inappropriately compensated or enhanced by this decision? Is it worth it?? Using any position of power to ingratiate yourself or another specific individual is wholly inappropriate.
Most public corruption is elected officials knowingly putting themselves in a position of corruption with campaign donors. I have no campaign donors and will not accept any money from any person or business or union or lobbyist or entity whatsoever for any purpose.
I just eliminated 98% of the risks to my principles. #FTW I got the idea from listening to Frank Zappa explain how he would run for President. (Actually, Frank should have been President. He would have been great and we could avoided a ton of mistakes over the years.)
4- How often have you attended City Council meetings in the last year and what, if any, issues have you spoken out about in such meetings?
About a dozen City Council meetings, more City briefings and was on the Chief of Police’s Advisory Board for one and half terms before I left that position with a list of very serious concerns and issues.
I have spoken to police issues, big time on marijuana legalization and commercial outlets in SL, compensation issues, road conditions and overall budgets.
5- The San Leandro City Council is no longer producing full minutes of its meetings, and instead produces an audio/video recording and a record of its votes (but not comments/discussions). Would you restore full minutes?
I understand the cost restraints of transcribing large volumes of text from each meeting. I don’t really have a huge issue with recording the main body of the meetings, but votes and comments preceding votes should be “hard recorded” and transcribed for the city’s permanent record and posted to the city’s website.
6- Do you support a sunshine ordinance in San Leandro? Be specific as to terms.
I support the sunshine concept as widely as possible. I always prefer sunshine to closed doors – public record openness is key to a functional democracy. The city, as with any government body, should release as many details of government activities and decisions to the public immediately, and eventually, all information of government, other than those matters sealed by a judge, should be fully released to the public.
Contracts with third parties is a growing concern of mine. I would like to see the widest possible interpretations of sunshine laws to be applied to contracts in which any taxpayer money is spent. City managers’ justifications for any spending contract [over a certain small limit] should be public information – even if the details are still being “negotiated” or closed in legal matter.
Disciplinary matters where:
A) A breach of community trust / ethics occurred
B) Where a felony of California law has occurred
C) Where the city faces liabilities over the Small Claims Court amount
Should be released at the soonest possible point in the proceedings.
7- Do you believe the City Council should censure Vice-Mayor Benny Lee for lobbying the Oakland City Council against renewing its $1Billion garbage contract with Waste Management? San Leandro collects $500K in taxes annually from WM’s transfer station.
Absolutely yes. The inappropriateness of the conduct must be addressed and documented so all future City Council persons conduct themselves under the city guidelines (including ethics) properly.
His need to promote Oakland over San Leandro as our elected official is ridiculous conduct.
8- What’s your position on measure HH?
I am torn on measure HH. If we raise taxes for decades, does that really fix the long-term problems in San Leandro’s budget? We’d better hope so, and we better make sure that tech businesses on Lit San Leandro move quickly to spend money with our city to bolster base tax revenue rates (which will amplify HH’s effect).
If the tax increase ends up going to ridiculous risks and liabilities (and bad land deals) and not actual city services, I start having a real huge problem with raising taxes yet again.
9- Do you support continuing or making permanent the business license fee holiday for new businesses? Why or why not?
The business tax holiday was a good incentive paired up with some of the other projects, like the BART area reconstruction, the Kaiser Hospital and Lit San Leandro. With the city being tens of millions of dollars in arrears on a list of liabilities, including road, pensions, and other benefits, we need to focus on business growth while we continue having revenue growth. Again, I did not object to the business tax waivers as a co-marketing plan, but I do believe that phase is over for the city. Businesses will want to move into San Leandro to be near these new projects. I don’t think that a business license waiver is a make-or-break decision point for companies wanting to have proximity to our larger city projects. I believe we need to take advantage of the attractive force of Lit San Leandro. The big Internet service providers, namely Comcast and AT&T, have virtually no interest in providing the infrastructure that is already available within Lit San Leandro. This factor is a stronger draw to San Leandro than I believe most people realize. My experience as a high-level engineer in information technology sees plenty of value to companies to move to San Leandro and help contribute to the services we provide as a city.
We have the infrastructure which is sellable in the high technology marketplace. I think we should have more confidence in that.
10- Do you support pension reform in San Leandro? Be specific.
Pension reform has become a hyper-partisan issue of blame shifting (another reason I am an independent). I have attended several city meetings and city council meetings and stood up to address this very issue. One of the horrible flaws of business management in the public sector is not evaluating each city employee via their total compensation costs (TCC). It is almost a distracting ruse to only talk about pensions. The fact is the biggest concern is with public safety pensions because of regulations which allow the employee themselves to modify the end result of their pension. This part of the pension practice should be banned. In fact, a state agreement was reached last year that would put an end to the worst abuses, such as “bumping up” one’s own public pension that was just undermined by competing interests. This cancellation of the pension budget deal is now putting every city and county into long-term fiscal risks we thought we had sorted out last year.
The fact is public employees should be offered a Total Compensation Package. Then the employees may decide, under guidelines, how to provision their total compensation. The city, like every other city and county in California, should stop trying to entice or “poach” public employees, especially public safety, by enticing them with pension or other compensation tricks.
When I work as a consultant or an employee, I am paid a total compensation rate, period. Promising a pension lotto to public employees is disingenuous because if the city cannot pay for its pension contribution rate, and other cities can’t pay their pension contribution rate, the retirement system will become unviable.
Each and every city employee should be given a TCC for their position. The bargaining units can negotiate and apportion total compensation with the city manager. I think this will be much better system than dangling a pension argument or promise which will be difficult to fulfill in the long term.
NEW NOTE since the big pension news this week: Pension arguments do not matter any longer. A federal judge in the Stockton case has said she believes any city can simply walk away from their CalPERS obligations (including for retirees). The banks won and I just lost my very small pension. Oh well, I put in a few more hours at the clients so the banks can have their money back. (The contract I signed means nothing, but Goldman Sucks got their bonus checks with taxpayer bailout money, that’s all that matters right?). PERS is a dead issue in California, and we will have massive problems staffing and retaining any peace officer now. We told the cops to pay for their own pensions just so a judge could hand it to Wall Street a little while later. That was a deceitful plan against the cops. Since PERS is much more than retirement (also industrial disability coverage and medical coverage for career-ending injuries), the city or the staff will need three or four different (think AFLAC on steroids) plans to cover this one total comp line item. More affluent cities will just increase total comp enormously and buy the officers into their cities after less-affluent cities drop coverage under PERS.
If you really know your American-Corporate-Banking-pension-malfeasance history – this happened to textiles, then auto manufacturing and part suppliers, then the airline pilots and mechanics, now public safety. Then military retirements and the VA will be swiped, then Social Security is robbed. I said this in my blog a 100 times in the past 7 years – actually thought it would have happened sooner. The banks and their apologists (like many local officials) have won. Pensions will be eliminated for public employees at the first sign of trouble here in our city. If Stockton, San Bernardino then a few more walk away, PERS’ actuary table collapses, and the pension is destroyed for current retirees (see Detroit) and all active public safety throughout the state. The banks, Tea Party and anarchists are celebrating a win this week!
The banks and Wall Street won so you all can stop whining about public pensions (while ignoring corporate welfare and bank bailouts by the trillions). Except after we stop offering pensions (and other benefits), the officers will leave for greener pastures quickly (yes, Atherton will, in fact, hire them quickly away like they did when San Jose and SJPD got Tea Partied and went south). We will be stuck with 90% error rate ADT alarms and Bay Alarm security guards, oh, and The Purge every once in a while.
They are following the playbook from the hijacking of the airlines pilots’ pensions and benefits pretty closely from a quick read of the case news.
Eerily the same, years apart, same ruses and same long-term scheme.
The Mayor and others who promoted a false promise to city workers (pay in, you will be fine, no really!) will also sleep well this week.
11- What are your plans for increasing revenue and/or cutting costs in San Leandro? Be specific.
Cutting costs: Not so much cutting costs but avoiding the disastrous costs of bad policy will be a focus of my term as mayor. Do we really need the additional risk and liability that comes with a tank possessed by the police department? The unpleasant situation in Ferguson, MO has already cost the taxpayers of Ferguson alone, never mind St. Louis County or the state of Missouri, over one million dollars according to a local alderman. How do we really avoid big budget problems? Avoiding ridiculous liability costs.
I’ve already suggested an energy savings in other questions from building or upgrading new city buildings with solar power and wind energy as needed. Solar and wind energy represent a huge return on investment for the city, and that should be capitalized upon as much as possible.
One of the ways we can avoid unexpected costs in the future is to pass city ordinances which highly restrict, if not outright block, the use of pension obligation bonds or any exotic financial instrument which results in the city foolishly taking “pension payment holidays” or skipping other bills. As we know in our own lives, if you skip a credit card payment, you owe more next month. Somehow, the city took pension holidays and denied that a bigger payment was due in the future.
Another large liability I would like to avoid involves the city’s property dealings. I would like to avoid at all possible costs “land deals” in which the city takes a bath on the property of millions of dollars.
In fact, here is a savings we can get. Let’s ask Tesla to use San Leandro Police Department as a test bed to convert our fleet of patrol cars into mainly electric sedans. I have spoken to my fellow comrades, now police managers, and fuel bills for the police department have become the bane of their operations. I was told by a police manager that his department is now spending seven and half times more for fuel than they did just a few years ago.
12- San Leandro is about to lose millions of dollars in taxes and development fees, due to Waste Management losing its garbage contract with the City of Oakland. What would you have done to prevent that situation from occurring and what will you do in the future to support San Leandro businesses?
#PimpSlapBennyLee #justkidding #notreally
13- San Leandro has invested on creating a fiber loop and is trying to market itself to high tech manufacturing. What would you do to promote these efforts?
I am all over Lit San Leandro!! I am a senior engineer (who has worked at some big facilities, such as Stanford Linear Accelerator Center/USDOE) in the Information Technology industry and can’t possibly be more supportive of Lit San Leandro and the Dark Fiber Co-op.
I wrote long blogs saying it is the best thing to happen to San Leandro to date.
I also met with Dr. Kennedy, creator of Lit San Leandro to discuss the technical aspects of the project. It was a wonderful meeting where one very smart business leader was going to set up San Leandro for the long-term win. The future of our city is largely aligned with Lit San Leandro. Trust me, it is better than handing out corporate welfare as an attraction for businesses or dealing with the canards of logic which is dealing with a pro sports team “as revenue.” (example: The NFL is a non-profit and massive welfare recipient from every level of government. There are few positive ROIs with cities/counties and pro sports leagues. It is a complete, documented myth that casinos or sports teams help local economics)
Promotion of Lit San Leandro? It will sell itself, but I am open to working with the Lit San Leandro cooperative on further marketing, especially if it involves bringing 21st century manufacturing technology sites to the empty/emptier commercial and light industrial zones within San Leandro. Comcast and AT&T have little interest in providing top tier / best-in-class mega-bandwidth as Lit San Leandro does at these price and performance levels. Engineers, artists, and coders alike will find us pretty quickly. Be patient, it is the best mega-loop in service in the country right now, even competing easily with Google Fiber services.
We built it, they will come!
14- What are your thoughts on redevelopment in general? What should the City do to spruce up downtown and the South part of town?
The BART section (for example) was a very nice upgrade for the city. It provides a beautiful greeting for those visitors and guests arriving by train. I would like to see that extended in our business routes city line to city line whenever fiscally responsible to do so.
One criticism though–the crosswalks need serious redesign. (See crosswalks in Germany, for example, where I used to live for 3 years). All crosswalks should be 24×7 LED flashing signaled and illuminated for maximum pedestrian visibility and safety.
A general thought – start-ups, small businesses and local expansion of existing businesses are high on my priority list. Another Wal Mart does not get us anywhere, neither did the last two…
15- What are your plans for the development of the Marina? If they include dredging, who should pay for it? Be specific as to what you will work to see happen.
Dredging is economically infeasible, maybe even improbable. As much as I like the idea of a marina (I used to live and work in Monterey which has a lovely marina), the silt replacement speed and the dredging costs makes having a marina very unlikely in the long term.
Before saying I would like to see significant development in the Marina area (sans dredging), I would first like to speak with the Marina residents. Any development of any large size or lengthy period would be a huge impact.
I did read about an idea for a conference center or similar. To that, I would say I would really have to run the numbers and gauge the residents’ feelings as to the long-term impact (sounds like a town hall meeting or two) of such a large development idea. I completely understand the need to add businesses (therefore revenue) to the city, populating the empty light industrial zone that can connect to Lit San Leandro. This should be a higher priority to me than any Marina development.
16- What type of affordable housing requirements do you support for new developments?
As long as the banks keep up the nonsense with exotic mortgages, there is nothing affordable about a home in the Bay Area for a minimum wage to lower middle income wage earner. This is a bit of a loaded question, because if you don’t answer with a list of goodies voters have heard before, it is an immediate turn-off. I do realize that. But, I am a socio-political blogger who has written extensively over the past 15 years about bad banking practices, bad mortgages, and the completely false narrative Americans have been sold about home ownership.
The Case-Shilling study on home prices and investment returns for a typical family living in a single family home shows some startling data, which is totally counterintuitive to the common American lexicon about home ownership. Whatever perceptions Americans have about getting “wealthy” or in fact, even getting a small return on a house in America, they are almost completely wrong according to the data. Homes are simply a terrible investment in America, in fact, according to Case-Shilling, one of the worst investments a head-of-household can make over the long term. Americans polled assumed wild housing investment returns (returns on investments per annum) of up to 13% per year. The reality of the return over time is less than 1%. Bankers and real estate agents make billions on housing, working Americans do not.
I would be more in favor of starting low-cost or free community training courses on the mechanics of financing a home in the real world given the study data, the various ways bad mortgage companies like Countywide defrauded home buyers, including the targeted frauds against black and Latino neighborhoods. Of course, a banker, mortgage lender, broker or real estate agent would have to be banned from those meetings or there would be no point to them. Once residents are completely and honestly aware of how fraudulent and overpriced the Bay Area market has become and the fact we are already in another housing bubble (what happened to the folks who bought at the last peak??), which could pop at any moment, then they could make their own decisions about true affordability given their income potential and current market prices.
After yet another right-next-door foreclosure to my house within the last couple of months and utter nonsense of the housing market re-bubbling, I could not in good conscience encourage anyone to get into a mortgage, unless they could afford to lose everything.
17- How should the City and the School District collaborate regarding any new housing developments?
I am calling 4th down and punting here. We homeschool and our kids are heading into university. Also, not finding a real nexus here.
Is the problem that education is disparate among our schools? Not sure here.
18- What is your specific plan for repairing streets and sidewalks in San Leandro?
San Leandro is in serious trouble in long-term road maintenance.
This is a meeting topic I attend meetings for because it is a gauge of overall city budget health. It ain’t pretty.
Poor road conditions amplify every resident’s and business’s costs through increases in maintenance and even damage to their vehicles using the poorly maintained roadways.
The issue of the roadways is a general budget problem. As long as our budget is unhealthy, our roads and streets will be unhealthy. There is no state or federal budget bailout for our roads. If we intend to attract businesses and residents to San Leandro via projects like Kaiser Hospital and Lit San Leandro, we will have to improve the roads. Except at the current revenue levels (again I have attended many meetings on this), it’s nearly impossible to play catch-up with road maintenance without seriously harming another budget category. What we need to focus on as a city is populating our vacant industrial zones with high tech businesses with connections to Lit San Leandro. That formula of business growth will provide the overall revenue increases required to allow a larger apportionment to street maintenance.
I consider the road maintenance a high priority as not fixing the roads, according to a recent study I read, costs each family $1200 per year in additional vehicle maintenance. In addition to the maintenance issue that is a burden cost to every resident, there is also a safety issue, like the Highway 580 Benedict off-ramp where the roads are getting so deteriorated they will, in fact, increase accident rates. The off-ramp is practically sliding back onto the highway in two pieces. (I understand that the off-ramp may be a Cal Trans issue, but it goes to the overall state of road conditions in our town.)
19- Global warming threatens to raise sea levels. What should the City be doing to help prevent rising bay waters from damaging property?
We can’t even pave the roads or pay for the firefighter’s pension obligation bonds and according to those running in the election, we are buying a tank and taking on huge liabilities without really acknowledging or addressing any of the risks. Climate change is absolutely real according the scientists and data analysts (if you think it is still “a question”, stop watching the broken 24×7 cable TV news and read a science paper, I have!), but San Leandro mounting some sort of defense (which could cost untold millions, even untold tens of millions) at this juncture is frankly impossible.
Coordination with the state and federal governments is our only course at this time.
20- What’s your position on a “tree preservation ordinance”? Please be specific as to any ordinance that you would support.
The ordinance suggested was decent enough, except it does not hold the city itself to the same rules.
The more trees the better. Again, community education on the fact that trees and dense tree canopies, are good for a long list of reasons (wildlife, cleaner air, sound / noise suppression and diffusion, etc. etc.) is where the main part of the effort should focus. The biggest obstacle here probably is the community groups / improvement associations promoting or demanding-under-false-pretenses cutting down or lopping off every tree in a neighborhood for some questionable reasons at times.
Also, I read a study from the University of Sheffield, England which examined the entire industrial world’s crime patterns. The only correlative factor in the research that showed any relationship to reduced crime was the maturity and densities of trees and tree-lined streets. I thought that was an interesting research note. (I read a lot of scientific papers.)
I don’t have a problem with an ordinance if it were reasonably presented and enforced (like Monterey’s was; Carmel tended to go overboard with theirs) but again, community education is better, non-confrontational way to deal with a relatively simply issue.
21- Should the City offer incentives to encourage property owners to install solar systems or other alternative energy sources? Be specific.
The city is doing a pretty good job with the solar permitting process. I already have a ~10kWh solar array (a Green Libertarian, yep folks, you heard it here first!) installed on my home and found no barriers from the city in completing that home improvement.
If you are speaking to cash incentives from the city itself, no. The state and federal incentives provide ample incentives to enter any scale of solar array. (I am an engineer and studied and evaluated solar installation for three years before purchasing my own solar system.) The government incentives plus the current decline cost curve forecast is making solar literally more affordable every single day. Solar has fallen 80% in implementation costs, and there are many reasons it could still fall much further making the most affordable energy solution available on the market.
New or upgraded city buildings should rely on solar and wind energy alone. The local IBEW and solar contractors can easily make that happen, and the return on investment (ROI) is clear on solar power.
22- What will you do to make San Leandro more friendly for pedestrians and cyclists?
Crosswalks with better designs. Improving and expanding and promoting bicycle traffic.
Oh, and also use the time, money and effort of buying a police tank or rappelling off the Marriott on overtime for traffic enforcement focused on pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
SURVEILLANCE & LAW ENFORCEMENT
23- What’s your position on red light cameras and why?
I have written extensively how red light cameras are absolute frauds.
What are red light cameras? Revenue for an out-of-state or out-of-country corporation. You had a tax imposed on the city by a nefarious police contract backed up by utter bunk (they say they have the statistics, but they would be wrong). How is that legal? I am not a lawyer, so I am not sure. But I do know many states have banned them, and many cities have banned them and all for the same reasons. They are not law enforcement whatsoever, they are unconstitutional (“no service” according to an Arizona court), and they actually reduce red light violations by increasing a list of others, including rear-end collisions.
I want to make it absolutely clear what I mean by fraud. The camera corporations have been conclusively caught rigging their camera systems for more violations, ergo more revenue. Other departments have been caught routinely citing citizens for right-on-red violations, which no ethical human officer would ever issue a citation for. I have spoken extensively to friends in law enforcement in several states. I can only find a tiny percentage that do not find these systems a corporate fraud and a taxpayer burden.
San Leandro got screwed with red light cameras, period. Oh, and they will be used as Stasi spy cameras ten minutes after they tell you they won’t be used for that (happened a dozen times throughout the country).
I have also confirmed my feelings about these cameras with a lengthy list of active duty peace officers and police mgrs. Nearly all admit they are just a taxpayer fraud under the guise of law enforcement.
You, San Leandro residents, got robbed by the red light corporatists.
24- What is your position on public/police operated public surveillance cameras?
Cameras within the city’s jails must be upgraded. They should be upgraded to the highest quality 1080p 24p wide-angle with real milspec infrared (for lighting outages in the jail) camera available for our budget. Those cameras are required by state law and being a retired police officer, I believe and I know all custodial operations should be recorded 24x7x365 (and 366 on leap years).
The cameras at city hall for security or other city properties I have little problem with as long as proper security procedures are followed and contract procedures and protocols are adhered to.
The current plan to line East 14th Street and other streets with an ever growing number of Homeland Security cameras is an atrocity about to happen. The Oakland “fusion center” is not law enforcement. The spy cameras are not law enforcement like the red lights cameras are not real cop work. They are almost always oversold and wildly underperformed. Also like the red light cameras, cities are pulling these spy systems out as they are often useless and often abused. Wilkes-Barre, Penn took a federal grant and spent tons of their own money on a massive camera network only to have a massive robbery occur right under cameras right after they installed them. WBP did not catch a single frame of the mass robbery for a $10M price tag. We should be cautious and pragmatic in our spending of taxpayer dollars – more results, less marketing and less public contract frauds.
These career-padding (for police mgrs.) and profiteering devices (for the security industrial complex vendor) actually do little to aid the true mission of law enforcement. Anyone telling you any different is a sales guy selling the cameras or a police mgr looking for a fat Homeland Security contract on top of their growing PERS retirement after they leave San Leandro.
25- SLPD operates several mobile and static license place readers which photograph millions of license plates and cars. Do you support an ordinance that will restrict how long these records are kept and who they are shared with? Be specific as to terms.
On-the-spot detections of stolen vehicles I actually love. A human can read and remember a lot of plates, but only so many.
The problem is not the technology or even the use of the tech (in this specific case), but the obvious overstepping of ethical and professional boundaries with this tech.
SLPD operation of these cameras are out of step with many other police managers of other agencies I have personally spoken with, including lieutenants, commanders and chiefs-of-police.
No agencies should be sharing this data en mass with anyone, especially Homeland Security or a profiteering federal security vendor.
No data should ever be brokered / “API-ed” / sold by the city.
No data should ever be kept longer than 48 to 72 hours (the most common duration in my personal discussions with active peace officers).
Violations of data handling by any city employee should result in immediate termination for cause. This should be written into every employment contract and brutally enforced BEFORE we have a major information security breech and increased liabilities.
BUT…. Do not worry so much about these, they are a short term solution at best. Scanning license plates for stolen cars won’t even be required five years from now. Did you know that if you finance your car loan with a certain credit score and with a certain few banks – they track your car with cellular hardware? Not kidding. They track your car and if you are a few days late with a payment, they can remotely disable it. That’s today. In five years, it will be a standard feature where the owner can disable the car with their smartphone. The expensive sheen of this system will wear off and the system discontinued simply because everyone will have direct control of their own car with an iPhone or Android device.
26- How would you tackle the increasing militarization of the SLPD? Do you believe that the SLPD should continue to operate its SWAT team?
The specially trained officers and some special gear is a requirement, but this agency, along with thousands of others have taken the use of SWAT teams to new ridiculous lengths. Do you really need a SWAT team to arrest an unarmed suspect with an outstanding warrant?
When you look at the misuse of the SWAT teams, the statistics are actually disturbing. According to Maj. Neil Franklin, retired, Baltimore Police Department, and executive member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, SWAT teams now are almost entirely being misused for the drug war – on average 124 armed military assaults per day in this country –nearly all of them against residences. Even when there is no evidence to show violent, armed resistance against law enforcement, it has not only become practice to send a SWAT team, but also tanks, grenade launchers, and sound cannons (LRAD-long range acoustic devices). All these items are not equipment of law enforcement. These are items of warfare. They are items of combat. The mere presence of specially trained police officers does not particularly bother me. In fact, it would make me a hypocrite since I was a Military Police officer with various training, which in the civilian world one would call SWAT. Except our SWAT training was conducted by Special Forces.
I share most American citizens’ concerns about the nationwide misuse of SWAT teams and often the abusive and unconstitutional tactics of those SWAT teams (like flash bang grenades at every entry, at which eventually the cops ended up blowing up a baby and leaving it critically injured). As a retired police officer and former military police officer, these incidents are of grave concern to me. Any chief of police, police supervisor, or special team commander who really thinks you need to throw a flash-bang grenade into every residence during a search warrant literally needs his or her head examined. Law enforcement officers wishing to continue some of the more absurd parts of militarization are getting to the point at which they should be relieved of duty. I have checked myself on this opinion with a large variety of civilian and military police officers, and even one Green Beret with 30 years of tactical experience.
The largest abuses with SWAT teams are caused by the improper incentives created by the federal government as it pertains to the ongoing war on drugs. I am a huge supporter of the Drug Policy Alliance, Law Enforcement Against the Prohibition, Lawmen Protecting Patients, the Cannabis Collective, and many other drug reform groups.
If a suspect is wanted for kidnapping and rape or robbery and murder, I would be a hypocrite to say that I wouldn’t use any tactic or weapon possible to bring that suspect into custody. But that is not the reason that SWAT teams are used in America today. The actual reasons that SWAT teams are deployed today, 80% of the time, is for drug search warrants against residences. Of those 80% of SWAT deployments, the super-majority of warrants do not produce any substantial amount of drugs, narcotics or other contraband. I think most Americans would be concerned to find out that most violent entries into American homes have nothing to do with violent crime. They have to do with dime bags and low-level outstanding warrant arrests.
The police are being fed an improper school of tactics that only furthers the broken and expensive war on drugs. That encouragement is coming from federal agencies pouring money and military equipment, including tanks, grenade launchers and [not kidding] bayonets, into local departments under the guise of law enforcement. What is becoming increasingly apparent is that the drug war, tanks and grenade launchers are simply distracting peace officers from their law enforcement duties of neighbors helping neighbors and solving real local community crimes. We have many Army and Marine divisions plus the National Guard – at some point, this is just another branch of absurd, bankrupt and corrupt defense spending. This has put our entire govt (including things like the Dept of Education – yes they have a militarized assault combat team and tanks now too; the Education Department, which the last time I checked was not in either DOJ, DHS or DOD) on offensive with disregard as to costs or actual real world results.
Police departments which have de-militarized and have gone back to policing with their communities have seen remarkable drops in overall crime rates. Areas which continue to spastically militarize are actually getting worse.
27- What are your public safety priorities?
Anything that does not involve tanks, SWAT teams for unarmed suspects, the war on drugs or playing Army or Team America: World Police.
Burglaries, robberies (county-wide resolution rate is under 20% on average for non-murder felonies) are a high priority. Eventually, we will have to address identity theft and related frauds because theft and frauds happen thousands of fold more often than whatever they think they need the tank for.
Get back to the basics. One of the largest problems with setting priorities is knowing the actual data of police activity. Historically, the police don’t do a terrific job on statistics and with reported crime rates being presented with large (>20%) variations virtually very reporting period (again, a common problem throughout the country), it is actually hard to tell what real priorities should be addressed.
Like in engineering, the priorities are set after the confirmed data is collected and analyzed.
I do know that one non-priority is having officers driving up and down East 14th St. racking up stats without patrolling neighborhoods. I have an advanced radio scanner, I listen and look at the website tracking activities.
Get back to basics, use good data and drive forward on a holistic city-wide approach with community involvement.
28- When the City Council passed an ordinance allowing citizens to keep bees with a permit, it provided that in order to get that permit citizens had to agree to waive their 4th amendment right to warrantless searches of their properties. What’s your position on this type of requirements? What will you do specifically with the requirement in the “chicken & bee” ordinance?
My family and I are 4-H members. We support, attend meetings and highly encourage urban gardening, alternative landscaping and urban husbandry.
No, San Leandro residents will not lose their 4th amendment rights. I was at the city council meeting in which the city attorney explicitly stated the entry onto property simply for ordinance compliance was illegal. I agree completely with the city attorney. The city attorney specifically said that an inspection warrant (my note) per common agriculture and farming practice would be required for any entry for any purpose by the police department.
I openly question the motives for anyone in the city to have suggested otherwise. It is obviously ridiculous that submitting for permit x would de facto negate your property rights. This is an issue which all San Leandro residents are going to have to be aware of and be continually watchful for over the long term. I completely and unreservedly support all California residents’ property rights as they are matters of constitutional rights under both the State and the US Constitutions.
I became so concerned about the direction of this ordinance that I contacted Institute for Justice, a Libertarian version of the ACLU, for legal guidance. IJ reported to me that they are very familiar with this sort of attempt to degrade citizens’ property rights. They felt they had significant legal background to defeat such an ordinance, pro bono by the way, as this issue has repeatedly come up during the Stasi-fication of property rights.
Chalk up the waiver of the 4th amendment for husbandry with the red light cameras and tanks; they are completely unconstitutional, and frankly complete bullshit.
29- What do you think are the City’s responsibilities vis a vis ensuring that everyone in San Leandro has access to food, housing, health care and other necessities of life? How will you meet such responsibilities?
San Leandro has little means to provide this type of care for its citizens. What the city of San Leandro should do is provide policies which guarantee fair housing, good education, well maintained streets and public safety. These are in fact the proper parameters of a city government.
30- How should the Council promote community health in San Leandro?
Recommend wearing condoms and have a strong stance against domestic violence. Ending the drug war and dealing with use and abuse as family or medical issues would be very helpful too.
31- Will you support an ordinance to increase the minimum wage in San Leandro? If so, to what amount.
We raise the min wage, rents go up.
We raise the min wage, taxes go up.
We raise the min wage, the banks introduce predatory ATM fee policies to take the min wage earners increase the next paycheck.
We raise the min wage, the min wagers are still “unbanked” cause they are still poor and getting screwed by payday lenders (which are mostly the Wall Street/banks now)
I am worried about the poor – but what does raising the min wage do without changing any of the other bastardizations of finance in our system??
Feels good to raise the wage, sure – but the person receiving the benefit of the raise is NOT the min wage earner or their families. (absent any other changes like not allowing equivalent 1200% APR credit fees in payday loans which their family or friends will have to pay off later with egregious interest and fees – yep, been there with my family!!)
I have written A LOT about economic theory and bad economic policies that have even turned criminal – go to my blog – the real answer to this question is about 350 pages long at least.
But “just raising the min wage” does nothing as intended (maybe in the extremely short term, aka until the next paycheck and banks shift their fees). Long-term poverty still increases in many sectors due to other bad economic policy.
I know this is an “alt-answer” but it is too complex, without extensive economic knowledge and background policy information, to answer correctly and completely here.
It now takes a min wage earner in California 130 hours of labor PER WEEK to afford housing. Are we going to raise the min wage by a factor of 3.5x?? Or we going to deal with how bad policy bleeds lower end wagers dry every month??
32- Do you support reducing development fees, zoning entitlements and construction permits in order to make housing more affordable?
For specific projects that we can identify that would truly help needy families, the disabled, and the elderly, I am willing to work with the city council and community activists to find a solution to the growing problem of housing affordability. I would also, given the proper long-term financial outlook for the city coffers, I would be willing to consider wide variances in initial costs and fees if, in fact, we properly target those in most need of assistance.
33- What should San Leandro do to aid its homeless population?
There is a strong nexus between homelessness and veterans and/or mental illness. This a quagmire and a half of an issue. I have had several meetings with mental health workers. And frankly, if what I am being told in confidence by health workers and mgrs. is true, it is beyond messed up, and what is happening at the county, state and “ObamaCare” levels is so misdirected – I don’t have enough data to even suggest what to do.
I do suspect some of the short-cuts by non-SL agencies with the homeless may be “dumping” patients and cases and their problems on to San Leandro (which mainly means the SL cops, which is totally unfair to them).
I need to get a lot more data and have more meetings because so far everyone can identify homelessness as an issue, but no one has even begun to find a coordinated county-wide solution. If my information is correct, the county appears to spend all their time signing parolees and mental patients to SSI (welfare) and ObamaCare (it is actually ObamaRomneyCare – you were getting this Heritage Foundation backed insurance corp profit plan no matter who got elected) while not providing case management or other direct care they actually need. The county seems to be grabbing for dollars (think of the game show booth with air blowing and dollars flying around) without managing or caring for the patient from my gathered information. So the question is, where do we go from here. It is not like San Leandro has the monetary incentives to coax county agency behavior and practices over multiple federal funding sources. This is very complex and deep issue that needs a lot work. The answers to which I am not sure of at this juncture.
34- Do you support an ordinance that would stabilize rents and impose just cause requirement for evictions? Be specific as to what proposals you would support/oppose.
I am not familiar enough to make an informed statement on this issue.
35- What’s your position on having medical marijuana dispensaries in San Leandro?
As I have said before, I am a strong, adamant supporter of Law Enforcement Against the Prohibition. I am also a former military undercover narcotics investigator who performed duties on two continents. At this point in my life, I realize that the drug war has been one of the greatest dis-information campaigns in American history. The only reason cannabis is not a well-accepted medicine and relaxing and safe recreational drug is because of the Big Pharmaceutical corporations protecting their heroin pill profits, police mgrs. looking for easy budget dollars, and politicians looking for somewhere to blame-shift an issue. America’s drug problem is the opioid (synth heroin) pain killers right now, not cannabis, by any scientific measure whatsoever. The canards of logic which are presented in the anti-cannabis crowd are entirely disprovable. Many of the main anti-cannabis advocates are paid shills of the Big Pharmaceutical corporations. I recently debated the use and abuse of cannabis on KQED radio, only later to find out that one of the anti-cannabis debaters has earned millions promoting scientifically inaccurate, medically incorrect, and often terribly misguided propaganda on behalf (being paid by) the Big Pharma Corporations.
Not only do I support a legal cannabis store, such as the one in Oakland, Harborside Medical Center, but I also support the regulated, taxed, and legalized cultivation of both psychoactive and non-psychoactive strains of cannabis. I believe we should authorize and license environmentally friendly and smart energy-use (solar and wind powered) warehouses which grow and cultivate cannabis. The city should have basically an excise tax on the cultivation of cannabis and should have a small retail tax of 5% specifically on retail cannabis outlets. Then just “let it rain” revenue, and the city can fix more of the roads on a better schedule and maybe even add some more peace officers without having to resort to begging for federal grants (that often led us astray).
Legalizing cannabis in the City of San Leandro would go miles in refocusing our police departments away from the failed war on drugs while providing a very lucrative taxation system that will create significant revenue for us to do things like repair the roads or even hire more police officers (of course, to do more non-drug war related things like street robberies and residential burglaries, aka real crime).
If you are elected, will you vote to stop the SLPD from obtaining an armored vehicle?
I will definitely vote against our police department obtaining an armored vehicle (aka a tank). I do support the police department a great deal; however, these militarization purchases are grossly inappropriate. Don’t do it, it has nothing to do with Peelian law enforcement. Absolutely nothing. The chance that this class of equipment would have for inappropriate use or outright abuse is too great for our city. The risk it carries, specifically liability, is enormous. If you read about the way the federal government is granting tanks to local police departments, you will quickly detect the utter Pentagon spending fraud and ridiculousness of trying to make every single police department in America an armored Marine division. Frankly, not just my opinion, but also according to dozens of the leading retired chiefs and police mgrs., it has to be one of the most fraudulent (even worse than the red light cameras) and dumb ideas I have heard in a long time.
Oh, the 2012 Ford patrols can come armored up, so a tank-as-suppression-and-fear-mongering on the populous is not required for officer safety. If we could protect (we, meaning military police and military intelligence) a targeted general officer in a specially equipped Mercedes Benz, which was beyond bullet-proof, I think we can safely patrol American streets without military nomenclature vehicles replacing tried-and-true American patrol cars. If you support the tank, you don’t get law enforcement or you are a complete fraud. One or the other.
As an Irish-American and a self-assigned student of both American and Irish history, I don’t think most people understand how offensive I find the prospect of American peace officers roaming the streets like the British Army in Northern Ireland. Don’t forget, I was an Irish-American assigned in West Germany standing up against East Germany and the Stasi, who also preferred roaming their streets in armored vehicles while spying on every single citizen they could. My mother-in-law is a peaceful democratic West German from Berlin. I have spoken to her about the militarization and the fear mongering that is being presented through the media. Remember, this is a woman who lived through World War II, the Berlin Airlift, the Berlin Wall, and the Cold War. She was 17 when the Berlin Wall was raised, and now at 70 she is truly frightened by this type of activity in America.
I completely expect to be outvoted by those endorsed and aligned candidates [those currying of favor] but I will absolutely minimally demand the employee contracts of the Chief and the Captains are re-written to include their resignations upon the first misuse or abuse of military gear. I am definitely not keeping a Chief around for seven and half weeks after the misuse occurs and after PR consultant was hired on taxpayer expense to come up with excuses for the command staff.
If you demand it, fine, stand by it – then sign an employment contract where you completely own it.
And just a note to the cops – that is your retirement you are driving in [with the tank]. Just letting you all know that – see the Stockton judge’s opinion (then read up on textiles and airlines when they went the same thing).
Also, I want full and accurate lifetime TCO, Total Cost of Ownership analysis, prior to me being outvoted and receiving the damn thing.
The taxpayers have a right to know how much the “free” tank is going to cost San Leandro in city funds over a five year (or whether the scheduled life is) period without misdirection or surprises.
Oh, if we take anything – WE CANNOT GIVE IT BACK!!! There is a serious warning folks!!