Johan Klehs

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.

Dec 062013


It should elect a full-time Mayor instead.

“The City of San Leandro is currently seeking the services of a state legislative advocate who will assist the City of San Leandro develop a state legislative program as well as advance its legislative goals at the state level. For additional information, please see the Request for Proposals document or contact Eric Engelbart, Assistant to the City Manager at (510) 577-3391.”

Former Assembly member Johan Klehs has been lobbying for the job and has tried to get it without going through a competitive proposal process, but fortunately the Council chose to open the process up to proposals from other lobbying firms.  The City of Alameda just hired former state Senator Don Perata for a similar role without such process, and while that’s a good way of rewarding old friends, it doesn’t guarantee the best results in Sacramento.

It’s not clear what San Leandro plans to pay its lobbyist, but Alameda’s contract is for $90,000 a year.  It may also be a waste of taxpayer money.  Lobbying Sacramento should be part of the job description for the Mayor and City Council members. They are, after all, politicians and they can and should be developing the relationships with elected officials in Sacramento to make any direct lobbying not just possible, but successful.   Sacramento, after all, is only a couple of hours away with bad traffic.

Unfortunately, San Leandro Council members have shown very little inclination to do actual political work.  For example, the only Council member who attended the holiday party thrown by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, State Senator Loni Hancock, Assembly members Rob Bonta and Nancy Skinner,  and Supervisor Keith Carson last Tuesday, was Ursula Reed.   She is running for County Superintendent so is courting political favor for her next race.   Reed and Jim Prola were the only two to attend the Democratic Party holiday party in San Leandro on Wednesday.  Parties are great opportunities to schmooze, make relationships and lobby.

An even better opportunity to do all three is the Democratic Convention which takes place every year.  There, you get access to state legislators from throughout the state in one single, fairly informal, but 2-days long event.  The Convention happens in Sacramento every other year, which makes it within driving distance.  And yet, the only Council members who attended this year’s convention were Jim Prola and Ursula Reed, who is busy with her own campaign.

One of the main reasons why our Mayor and Council members are so detached from their Council jobs is that these are all part-time positions.  This means they have other jobs that take most of their time.  Not surprisingly, the only retired member of the City Council is Jim Prola.   I have advocated before that we turn the Mayoral position into a full-time job. This would allow the Mayor to actually do his job as Mayor, in addition to represent the economic and political interests of the City in other fora.  And having a full-time Mayor could actually save us money.  A full-time Mayor need not be paid more than what Oakland’s Mayor makes currently, $137,000 a year – which is about what the City will spend in the combined salaries of a part-time lobbyst and part-time Mayor.   A full-time Mayor, however, should also be able to shoulder some of the responsibilities of the assistant City Managers.  Currently, San Leandro spends over a million dollars a year on its City Manager and two assistants.

Mayor Stephen Cassidy, however, doesn’t want to even entertain this possibility as it would not behoove him.  He’s currently a partner in a major law-firm so his current salary is probably more than twice what he’d make as a full-time Mayor.  However, Mayor Cassidy’s employment obligations are probably to blame for the fact that he has abdicated most of his responsibilities as Mayor.   The current system cheats the voters.

Before any actual changes can happen at City Hall, however, we need to elect a Mayor and Council members who actually want to do the job, and not just hold the title.  That is difficult, of course, given how little they get paid – seldom we have elections among quality candidates.  Ultimately it’s a chicken-and-egg question.