Benny Lee

Benny Lee is represents District 4 (Washington Manor) in the San Leandro City Council. He is the former president of the Heron Bay Homeowners Association and a member of the Asian Community Cultural Association of San Leandro.

His campaign for City Council was characterized by vile personal attacks against his opponent Lee, a conservative, became a Democrat after deciding to run and flip-flopped on key positions such as his support of marijuana dispensaries.

After receiving over $4K in campaign contributions and independent expenditures from the Police, Benny Lee has consistently voted on their favor. For example, he’s voted to increase surveillance of San Leandro citizens, to ban medical marijuana facilities and to allow police to enter private property without warrants, if people get a permit to keep chickens or bees.

In September 2013, Lee proposed to honor the totalitarian regime of the People’s Republic of China by racing the PRC flag over San Leandro on October 1st, the day that commemorates the Red Army victory in the Chinese civil war and the establishment of the Maoist communist regime, which would lead to deaths of 73 million people, the greatest democide in history. When confronted with China’s continues horrendous human rights violations, Lee refused to even acknowledge them saying simple that he is for “freedom of speech” – only to then try to get my Facebook Page that criticizes him banned.

Lee’s latest stunt is to lobby the Oakland City Council to not contract with the garbage company that has its transfer station in San Leandro. This will mean the City will lose multiple millions of dollars in taxes. See http://www.sanleandrobytes.com/archives/016548.html

Jul 212014
 
Tweets by Mike Katz-Lacabe

Tweets by Mike Katz-Lacabe

The San Leandro City Council no longer keeps minutes of its meetings. Anyone interested in what transpired has to listen through hours of recordings. There is no way to search through them either.  San Leandro Bytes editor Mike Katz-Lacabe (who is currently running for City Council) sometimes tweets from the meetings.  I’m going to start collecting his tweets to serve as the record the City Council does not want to keep. The tweets are slightly cleaned up for ease of reading.

Mayor Cassidy notes that San Leandro City Council voted to extend Measure Z (.25% sales tax) and increase to .5% mainly to fund roads.

San Leandro Town Hall meeting starts with update on Marina & Davis freeway overpass construction project. Summer 2015 ETA for completion.

Pile driving complete on San Leandro Marina overpass. Pile driving starts in August for Davis overpass: 7am to 3pm.

Question to CalTrans: Can you do something about timing of lights on Marina Blvd in San Leandro? Traffic there is horrible.

CalTrans response from Scott McCrank: We agree. We’re looking at it, but “only such green time that can be allotted.” We’re brainstorming…

San Leandro Town Hall meeting has nearly 60 attendees and about 15 City staff.

Police Chief reports that crime in San Leandro is down 7% from last year. Note that this matches regional trend.

Former San Leandro CM Howard Kerr supports increasing sales tax to 10% or more to fund more police, surveillance in streets, neighborhoods

San Leandro CMs Benny Lee, Jim Prola ,Diana Souza supported Measure Z in 2010 and support doubling

Commenter at San Leandro Town Hall: Look at cutting city government, including red light cameras, before increasing sales tax.

Dwight Pitcaithley at San Leandro Town Hall: Why aren’t voters being allowed to vote on the fate of the San Leandro Marina?

Mayor Cassidy responds to Pitcaithley: We don’t have a final plan for the San Leandro Marina yet. EIR is currently underway.

San Leandro Comm Dev Director Cynthia Battenberg notes that public wants boat harbor, but not enough to pay for it. From 11/2007 Godbe poll.

Leo West at San Leandro Town Hall: Measure Z was supposed to be a temporary tax & now it’s for 30 years. Says supporters of Measure Z lied.

Mayor Cassidy to West: We eliminated utility user tax rebate for large businesses. Spent money wisely. Doing same work with less staff.

Two more supporters of a boat harbor in San Leandro speak of a lack of vision, the marina as a gem in the Bay Area, & resident support.

Mayor Cassidy response to question from Justin Hutchison: City is working on free wifi in downtown San Leandro.

Jan 152014
 
Diana Souza

Diana Souza

And, more importantly, “Can she win?”

San Leandro City Council member Diana Souza is playing the old “will I, won’t I” game vis a vis running for Mayor.

On the one hand, she has been seeking the endorsement of highly placed Democrats. On the other hand, when asked in so many words whether she’s running for Mayor, she’s denied it.

While it’s likely that what she is doing is trying to assess whether she can garner enough political support to mount a credible challenge to Mayor Stephen Cassidy, she hurts her credibility by not being straight about it.  If she does decide to run, that lack of honesty may come to haunt her.

Mayor Stephen Cassidy is profoundly disliked by Central Labor and, by extension, by many powerful elements in the Democratic party.  Souza may feel she can exploit this vulnerability.  However, Souza’s right wing ideology – she has opposed everything from urban farming to marijuana dispensaries to even discussing services for the homeless, while pushing for restricting civil liberties in town – is not likely to be well received within Democratic circles.  Souza’s insistence that the flag of the People’s Republic of China be flown over City Hall, also suggest that she has very poor political instincts.   Anyone endorsing Souza does so at their own peril.

Souza’s greatest problem, however, is that she is not actually a viable candidate for Mayor.  Not only does she not have a base (though she will lean heavily on Benny Lee‘s connections within the Chinese community), but she has accomplished nothing in the seven years she has served in City Council.  She ran with the single purpose of building a competitive swimming pool in San Leandro, but was unable to get this done due to opposition by the public. who wanted WW funds spent on a variety of projects.   Since then, she’s had no initiatives and has served as a vote for the Police Department.

Souza also suffers from a lack of campaign experience.  She ran in 2006 against Julian Polvorosa., an elderly barber and former Council member who had been pushed to run by former colleagues and showed no desire to actually be elected.  Souza did a good job of putting signs around town and getting relatives to drop off some fliers, but didn’t need to create the grass root organization that pushed Cassidy into his 2010 win.  She ran for re-election unopposed.

Souza will likely receive the support of the Police Union if she runs for Mayor.  However, that is a double-edged sword in San Leandro.  While she can expect thousands of dollars from them, police support of former Mayor Tony Santos was likely a key reason for why he lost the race.  Indeed, current Councilmember Jim Prola blames news stories about Police Union contributions to his campaign for loosing him votes at the polls.   She is also likely to have the support of the city employee union, but that will just remind voters of how she has put employee’s interests above those of taxpayers..

Her biggest problem, however, is that whatever dissatisfaction there is in San Leandro with Cassidy, extends to the Council as well.  For example, she – along with Cassidy – voted to have the major downtown property sold to a developer for a fraction of its value, so as to be occupied by a drugstore that already has two branches downtown.  She has also voted to give the Police Chief and City manager raises, while complaining there is no money for city services.  Making a case that she’s any better than Cassidy will be tough.

Her candidacy, however, could precipitate another candidate jumping into the race.  Any votes she takes from Cassidy, could help a non-establishment candidate take the plunge.

Sep 292013
 
Mike Katz-Lacabe

Mike Katz-Lacabe

Today my husband, Mike Katz-Lacabe, was a guest of Brian Copeland on his KGO radio show. They discussed the controversy around raising the flag of the People’s Republic of China in San Leandro as well as the use of license plate cameras.  It’s only 20 minutes, so listen up!

BTW, Brian Copeland said that neither Councilmember Benny Lee, the architect of the flag proposal, nor any other supporters of the flag were willing to go to the show and stand up for their views.

Sep 262013
 
Cao Shunli

Cao Shunli

On September 13th, Cao Shunli was about to board a flight to Geneva to testify about human rights violations in China, when she was questioned and barred from taking the flight.

She has not been heard of since, and she’s thus suspected of being the victim of a “forced disappearance” by the Chinese government.  As you read this, she is likely to be enduring torture and/or cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment. It won’t be the first time.

After participating in a street protest in 2009, Cao Shunli was arrested without charges, tortured during a week in a police station and then sent to a “re-education camp” for another year of mistreatment. She was never allowed to see a lawyer.

In re-education camps, prisoners must spend the whole say – save for meal breaks – sitting down, with their backs straight and arms next to their sides, listening to lectures on how to be proper Chinese citizens. At night, they have to work for free. They are not even allowed a break when they sleep, they are forced to do so straight, on their backs, with their mouths facing upwards (like corpses). Their only hope of being freed is being convincing enough in their “confessions” to convince the authorities that they have been rehabilitated into mindless, servile citizens.

Cao Shunli spent a year in the camp before being freed, but was arrested soon after and sent to another one for another year.  She continued her human rights activism after being freed, and in October 2012 she was arrested for requesting public disclosure of China’s “National Human Rights Action Plan.”

Please e-mail the Chinese Embassy in Washington (chinaembassy_us@fmprc.gov.cn) to ask for her freedom.


Benny LeeThis post comes to you thanks to San Leandro Council Member Benny Lee

Sep 262013
 

alamedacityhallSan Leandro City Council member Benny Lee argued that San Leandro should raise the flag of the People’s Republic of China at City Hall because other cities like “Alameda do it”.

It turns out that that is not true.

Tibetan activists all over the world have been writing to Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore asking that they don’t fly the PRC flag on October 1st.  One activist got the following response from Assistant City Manager Alexander Nguyen:

Please be informed that the City of Alameda, California, has not, does not, and will not raise a foreign national flag on City Hall’s flagstaff.

The flag-raising ceremony scheduled next week is sponsored by our local Sister City Association and the Alameda Wuxi Friendship Committee, who use their own portable flagpoles.

This event is not a formal City Hall event; the Mayor and City Council do not sponsor it; they do not vote on it; they do not fund it.

Sincerely,

Alexander Nguyen
Assistant City Manager

So it would appear that Mr. Lee was, to put it politely, less than truthful.