Deborah Cox

Deborah Cox is a homemaker and volunteer fundraiser. Currently she’s also working part time for Assemblymember Bill Quirk as a district aid on education issues.

Cox has chaired numerous school fundrasing ventures, from the San Leandro Education Foundation, to the campaigns to pass school bonds and a parcel tax, to PTAs. She is in the Human Services commission, has been chair of her homeowners association and has volunteered for other organizations.

She is currently running for City Council District 1. Her political involvement before the race was limited to speaking against medical marijuana dispensaries and in favor of selling the property downtown to developer David Irmer so he could develop “The Village” strip mall. She does not attend council or community meetings.

Jan 052015
 
Laython "Judge" Landis

Laython “Judge” Landis

Update 2: Campaign finance reports show that Pauline Cutter returned Judge Landis’  contribution.  Deborah Cox did not.  Landis died in November 2015.

Update: Deborah Cox has given in to public pressure, this afternoon she spoke with Brian Copeland and said she’d return the contribution.

San Leandro has a long and tortuous history of racial segregation and discrimination.  The city was almost exclusively white well into the 1990s and stories of police cars guarding the border with Oakland still linger in the memory of many African Americans. Writer and comedian Brian Copeland, who moved to San Leandro as a young child, turned his experiences growing up here into a powerful one-man show, which became the longest running solo play in San Francisco.   The book based on his play, Not a Genuine Black Man: Or, How I Claimed My Piece of Ground in the Lily-White Suburbs, has earned 5 stars on Amazon.com.

While San Leandro has changed greatly since then, and we are now one of the most diverse cities in California, too many of the long-term residents who remain have kept their racist and xenophobic attitudes which they express unchallenged.  It was thus  not in the least surprising to hear that Laython “Judge” Landis, a former San Leandro City Council and current director of the Oro Loma Sanitary District Board, made an outright racist remark during a board meeting (which he later repeated thrice during a TV interview).  What was surprising is that someone actually called him on it and tried to hold him accountable for it.

Lands is well known in town for his racist and sexist commentaries; he once described President Obama as “just a monkey with ears” and has made indecent propositions to local female politicians.  But he has been an elected official for over four decades, his name carries weight with the older and white San Leandro population and he can be generous with his financial contributions.  This means that politicos keep inviting him to their events, using their names and taking his checks.

In the last election alone, Landis gave a $1,000 contribution to now Mayor Pauline Cutter and a $2,000 contribution to now Councilmember Deborah Cox.  On his radio show and on Facebook, Brian Copeland called on Cutter and Cox to return such contributions.  Cutter committed to doing so and has already taken Laython Landis off the list of the endorsers for her Mayoral run.  Deborah Cox has not personally addressed Copeland’s request, but the response of Angela Ramirez-Holmes‘s, Cox’ campaign manager, response is telling:  “I have no idea why giving him the money back is helpful. I don’t understand this call to action.

San Leandro deserves better.

Jan 032015
 

splitlogoCity Manager evaluation, new “Hostage Negotiation” vehicle & new Vice Mayor also on agenda

Update: I have heard back from City Attorney Richard Pio Roda.  He says that the City does not believe that the potential plaintiffs in the case that will be discussed in closed session are aware of the facts and circumstances that will enable their lawsuit.  He confirmed that the case in question did not involve “an accident, disaster, incident, or transaction”, for example, a police shooting, where the potential plaintiff is aware that they have been harmed.

The first City Council meeting of the year will be this Monday, January 5th.  It will include new Mayor Pauline Cutter and new Councilmembers Deborah Cox (Dist 1), Lee Thomas (Dist 3) and Corina Lopez (Dist 5).  Councilmembers Ursula Reed (Dist 2) and Jim Prola (Dist 6) have two more years to go before being termed out while Councilmember Benny Lee (Dist 4) is two years into his first term.

The Council Agenda for this Monday is very light and includes 2 closed session items (those that are discussed without the public being present).  It also includes this Council’s first Brown Act violation.

The Brown Act allows a City Council to discuss very few issues in closed session.  One of those is pending litigation against the City (CA Gov code 54956.9), including situations where “based on existing facts and circumstances, there is a significant exposure to litigation against the [City]” (54956.9(d)(2)).  However, the Brown Act also requires that if the “facts and circumstances … that might result in litigation against the [City]  … are known to a potential plaintiff … [these] shall be publicly stated on the agenda or announced (54956.9(e)(2)).  Under former Mayor Stephen Cassidy, the Council almost invariably broke this section of the law, and the pattern seems to be set to continue under Mayor Pauline Cutter. However, she’s been advised of the potential violation and she could choose to cure the situation by announcing the facts and circumstances of the potential litigation during Monday’s meeting.

The law does not require that the City announce such “facts and circumstances” if these are not known to the plaintiff, but such situations are rare.  For example, the family of the woman who was shot to death by the San Leandro Police Department less than a month ago, is not only aware of the fact that she was killed, but they have retained an attorney.  If the City Council will be discussing this case in closed session – and if they are not, they definitely should be -, there is no legal reason whatsoever for them to not disclose such fact.
According to the Agenda, the City Council will also meet in closed session to conduct the City Manager‘s evaluation, though given that three of the seven members of the Council have never worked with the City Manager before, it’s difficult to see how they’d be able to conduct and independent evaluation of his performance.

Open session items of interest include:

– The vote for a new Vice-Mayor

– Allocation of $71K (up from $60K) for the SLPD to get a new “hostage negotiation” vehicle.  This is in addition to the paramilitary armored vehicle that the SLPD wants the City to acquire.

– Presentation from Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments, a Fremont-based organization that works with victims of domestic violence.

 

 

Oct 312014
 

policestate

 

The positions below are based on candidates’ answers to questionnaires and to questions asked at candidate fora and on other public statements from the candidates.

* While the candidate currently holds that position, s/he might consider voting differently.

? The candidate has not indicated their position on this issue.

 

Mayoral Candidates

 Is in Favor of:  Diana Souza   Pauline Cutter   Dan Dillman   Gregg Daly
(write in) 
 Red Light Cameras   Y  N  N  N
 Surveillance Cameras  Y  Y  N  N
 Long Term Retention & Sharing
of License Plate Reader Data
 Y  Y*  N  N
 SLPD Armored Personnel Carrier  Y  Y*  N  N
 SLPD searching private property
without a warrant
 Y  Y*  N  N
 Ban on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries  Y  N  N  N
 Making School District Pay
for SLPD resource officers
 Y  N  N  N
 Flying the People’s Republic of China’s
Flag Over City Hall
 Y  N  N  N

City Council District 1 Candidates

 In Favor of:  Deborah Cox   David Anderson   Ken Pon   Mike Katz-Lacabe 
 Red Light Cameras   ?  ?  ?  N
 Surveillance Cameras  Y  Y  Y  N
 Long Term Retention & Sharing
of License Plate Reader Data
 ?  ?  ?  N
 SLPD Armored Personnel Carrier  Y  N*  N*  N
 SLPD searching private property
without a warrant
 ?  ?  ?  N
 Ban on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries  Y  N  N  N
 Making School District Pay
for SLPD resource officers
 ?  Y  ?  N
 Flying the People’s Republic of China’s
Flag Over City Hall
 N  N  N*  N
Attends City Council Meetings
& Speaks Out on Issues
 N  N  N  Y/Y

 

City Council District 3 Candidates

 In Favor of:  Lee Thomas   Allen Schoenfeld   Victor Aguilar 
 Red Light Cameras   N  N  N
 Surveillance Cameras  ?  N  N
 Long Term Retention & Sharing
of License Plate Reader Dataa
 ?  N  N
 SLPD Armored Personnel Carrier  Y*  N  N
 SLPD searching private property
without a warrant
 N  ?  N
 Ban on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries  Y  N  N
 Making School District Pay
for SLPD resource officers
 Y  N  N
 Flying the People’s Republic of China’s
Flag Over City Hall
 N  N  N
Attends City Council Meetings
& Speaks Out on Issues
 Y/N  Y/N  N

City Council District 5 Candidates

 In Favor of:  Leah Hall   Corina Lopez   Mia Ousley  
 Red Light Cameras   ?  ?  N
 Surveillance Cameras  ?  N  N
 Long Term Retention & Sharing
of License Plate Reader Data
 ?  ?  N
 SLPD Armored Personnel Carrier  N  Y  N
 SLPD searching private property
without a warrant
 ?  ?  N
 Ban on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries  Y  N  N
 Making School District Pay
for SLPD resource officers
 ?  N  N
 Flying the People’s Republic of China’s
Flag Over City Hall
 N  N  N
Attends City Council Meetings
& Speaks Out on Issues
 N  N  Y/Y
Oct 312014
 

jill_broadhurst_mailer_1City Council candidates in Oakland and San Leandro try to usurp the Sierra Club endorsement

The Sierra Club is not happy.  In particular, the Northern Alameda County Group of the Sierra Club seems quite angry.  Political candidates are usurping its good name and in return weakening its political power.

It started with Oakland City Council District 4 candidate Jill Broadhurst.  Broadhurst, the Executive Director of the East Bay Rental Housing Association did not get the Sierra Club endorsement.  Indeed, it was her opponent, Annie Campbell Washington, who got it.  Campbell is a pro-environment progressive. Broadhurst is not.

Jill_Broadhurst_mailer_twoIf you look at political candidate mailers, you will probably notice that many of them depict the logos of the organizations that have endorsed such candidate.  Indeed, on one of her mailers Broadhurst included the logo for the Oakland Chamber of Commerce PAC above the caption “Proudly endorsed by the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.” Right next to it, she placed the Sierra Club logo.  The caption, written in smaller print, reads “Proud supporting member of the Sierra Club.”  Another mailer contained the phrase “For Jill”  in large print next to the logo of the Sierra Club. Again, the caption saying that she is a member was written in very small print.  The intent is pretty clear: to suggest to voters that Broadhurst has been endorsed by the Sierra Club.

The Sierra Club was not amused.  It sent Broadhurst a cease and desist letter, stating that Broadhurst’s use of their logo infringed the Club’s trademark and that it falsely implied that she had been endorsed by them.  It threatened to sue her.

Broadhurst said she wouldn’t do it again but, of course, the damage had already been done.

greenmailerbig

Deborah Cox, who is running for San Leandro City Council District 1, was more brazen.  Rather than use the Sierra Club logo on her own literature, she spent $1,000 to buy space in the “Californians Vote Green” slate mailer and outright claimed that she had been “[e]ndorsed by Sierra Club.”

The “Californians Vote Green” mailer is a commercial enterprise not associated to any environmental organizations.  However, it’s name and the fact that it lists candidates as endorsed by the Sierra Club, misleads voters into thinking it’s an actual Sierra Club endorsement list.  When Cox’s false claim came to the attention of the Sierra Club, it may have been the proverbial stroke that broke the camel’s back.

I don’t know if Cox got a letter from the Sierra Club admonishing her, but the Chair of the Sierra Club’s Northern Alameda County Group wrote a letter to the San Leandro Times clarifying that Pauline Cutter and Corina Lopez were the only endorsed candidates in San Leandro.  The Club can hope that voters who pay attention to slate mailers, also read the local newspaper. To make sure voters did get the message that Cox was not endorsed by the Sierra Club, the Club also sent out their own mailer with its logo and the heading “OFFICIAL VOTER GUIDE,” listing the candidates it actually endorsed.

This is an important matter for the Sierra Club.  It wants to make sure that its name is not associated with politicians that push anti-environmental policies, as this would tarnish their own reputation with the community.  But it also wants to reward with its endorsement candidates that commit to support sound environmental practice , thus encouraging more candidates to make such commitments.

The Sierra Club can only hope that Broadhust’s and Cox’s actions will not encourage candidates in future races to also rip off its name.  How successful Broadhurst and Cox are in the election, may very well determine how likely that is.

Oct 302014
 

sroThe San Leandro Police Department applied for a $500,000 COPS grant to fund a total of four school resource officers (SRO’s). The SLPD, however, neglected to let the City Council and the School Board know that they would be on the hook for $1.69 million in matching funds. Any money spent on the SROs would have to be diverted from other uses. In the case of the school district, it might mean further cutting educational programs and not being able to restore counselors and nurses.

I contacted candidates for Mayor, City Council and School Board to ascertain how they would vote on this grant.

SCHOOL BOARD

At-Large Seat

Candidates Jeanne Kinkella and Peter Oshinski are both in favor of accepting the COPS grant and having the school district pay the whole $1.69 million.

Candidate Evelyn Gonzalez believes that the the City should continue to pay for the two current SROs, and that the District should not spend money on the officers.

Candidate Monique Tate did not respond to my request for her position on this issue.

Area 4 Seat

Candidate Leo Sheridan said he did not support the District paying the full $1.69 million but he did not specify how it should be split. He does support keeping just two SROs at the district.

Candidates Chike Udemezue and Latrina Dumas did not respond to my request for their positions on this issue.

 MAYOR

Diana Souza favors accepting the grant and splitting he $1.69 million costs between the City and the school district. She did not specify on what ratio. She is endorsed by the Police union.

Dan Dillman opposes the school district accepting the grant, but believes that if it does, it should pay the full amount.

Pauline Cutter supports maintaining the status quo, with the City funding two SROs.  If the School District wants more than two, Cutter believes the District should pay for the additional officers.

Gregg Daly opposes accepting the grant.

CITY COUNCIL

District 1

David Anderson favors accepting the grant and splitting the costs between the City Council and the School District.

Mike Katz-Lacabe opposes accepting the grant and notes that research has found SROs do not make schools safer

Deborah Cox and Ken Pon would not take a public stance on this issue. Cox is endorsed by the Police union.

District 3

Lee Thomas favors accepting the grant and splitting the costs between the City Council and the School District. He is endorsed by the Police union.

Allen Schoenfeld and Victor Aguilar favor maintaining the status quo, with the City continuing to pay for the two existing SROs.

District 5

Corina Lopez believes it’s the responsibility of the City, not the school district, to pay for law enforcement. She did not specify whether the City should continue paying for the two existing SROs or accept the grant and pay the whole $1.69 million to bring them up to four.

Mia Ousley opposes accepting the grant.

Leah Hall would not take a public stance on this issue.