For the last few weeks, we’ve been inundated with mailers from all sorts of candidates. Those running for City Council don’t make too many claims, limiting themselves to listing their resume, saying a few platitudes and maybe having a banal quote or two from some elected official, often one voters have never heard of. The candidates for Mayor who’ve served in the City Council, however, need to make the case of what they’ve been doing for the last four to eight years. But are they being honest with their claims? I decided to check it out.
In her mailer, Souza claims that several buildings were “approved and accomplished under Diana’s leadership.” Most of these are discussed under “questionable claims” below, but it’s patently false that the 9th grade campus and Grocery Outlet were “approved and accomplished” under her leadership. The 9th grade campus was built entirely with School District funds. The City demanded that some aesthetic changes be made to the outside of the building and paid for these changes. The City also partnered with the District to build the school’s gymnasium, paing part of the cost and in return having the district make it available for City purposes. The City Council voted against having Grocery Outlet move into the downtown property which is being developed as “The Village”. Grocery Outlet then found another property that was zoned for grocery stores and opened there.
In the “Parents for Progress” paid slate mailer, Souza claims to have provided money to complete the new health clinic, championed after-school programs, safe routes to schools, school resource officers and crossing guards.” However, the The City Council did not provide any money to complete the new health clinic. Rather, they provided a loan to the School District, at a higher interest that they were receiving from investing those funds, so that the District could buy the building. Souza has never championed after-school programs and these, indeed, were cut while she was in the Council. At the last City Council meeting, Souza argued that the School District, and not the City, should pay for school resource officers; she has also voted to cut crossing guards.
In the “Parents for Progress” paid slate mailer, Souza claims to have “been good for both our school districts, funding joint projects.” However, Souza has often spoken out against the City providing any funds to the School District, even to maintain facilities used exclusively for the City. Indeed, her animosity to the school has been so great that the San Leandro Teachers Association, who supported Corina Lopez when she ran against Pauline Cutter due to their own animosity to Cutter, has endorsed Cutter for Mayor.
In her mailer, Souza claims that under her leadership several buildings were approved and accomplished. However, while she approved them by voting for them, she did nothing to “accomplish” them.
Souza also takes credit for many “accomplishments” that are questionable at best. The Council “added resource officers” but Souza now favors making the School District pay for them. The Council might have increased city programs for youth, but only to cut them later. The Council may have expanded shuttle programs, but she has voted and/or spoken against the Links shuttle since she was elected. The Council had historically funded crossing guards, only to cut them in 2010, and then restore them but only after the School District agreed to share the costs. As far as I know, there are no neighborhood police beats – at least not any visible ones around here -, but if there are, they would be because of the Police Chief, not anything that Souza has done. She might have voted to adopt transit oriented development plans, the same ones which the Council used to block Grocery Outlet form using the former Albertson’s site, but these have fallen apart, which is why “The Village” was able to be constructed.
Souza has not brought new shopping and dining opportunities to town, unless she means she did so by approving Village Marketplace, which will feature a fast food burger joint. And if she brought back the Cherry Festival and the Tree lighting (Sausage & Suds is not funded by the City) before Cutter joined the Council, it was only to cut them again, as neither took place in 2010.
Her only role in the other accomplishments she lists was to vote for them.
Empty Promises: Souza has a long list of things we need to do. However, she’s been in the Council for 8 years without fulfilling them.
I e-mailed Diana Souza to ask for clarification on these claims, but did not hear back.
Questionable Claims: In one of her mailers, Cutter claims to have “lobbied Justice Department officials in Washington, DC for additional public safety resources.” However, the law enforcement funds that the City has obtained came in the form of competitive grants based on objective criteria. Cutter also claims that San Leandro just received federal funding for four more officers, however the COPS grant is only for $500K, which will cover less than the cost of one police officer for four years. The City wants the School District to pay the $1.7 million needed for the three other officers.
Under “Record of Accomplishments,” Cutter claims to have hired new police officers; however, the funds came from the COPS grant the City obtained before Cutter was in the Council. When I e-mailed her about it, Cutter said she found the funds to continue funding the police officers after the grant expired. Her claim to have opened Kaiser Hospital seems also unfounded, as the hospital was well under way to being built before Cutter joined the Council. Upon e-mailing her, Cutter responded that the Council fast-tracked Kaiser and it opened before it was originally scheduled to.
Empty Promises: Cutter promises she “will continue to enhance our quality of life by attracting quality retail and dining options to San Leandro.” However, she has not been able to accomplish that in the last four years, and she has not outlined a plan as to how she will do this. She also voted to sell the former Albertson’s property to developer David Irmer, assuring that only chain stores would be present in the new “Village Marketplace”.