measure HH

Dec 152014

SAFE Asks City Council to Vote Against COPS Grant

Update: The City Council voted to accept the COPS grant.  All but one of the speakers spoke against having SROs in Schools.

Last week, Students And Families for Education (SAFE) helped defeat the proposal to spend $1.7 of the San Leandro School District’s education fund on police in schools. Tonight, the San Leandro City Council votes on accepting the COPS Grant.

In addition to requiring the city spend money on new police positions, the grant proposal lays out Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli‘s plan to use the grant money to start a program of identifying and monitoring children labeled as “at risk” by the SLPD, beginning in elementary school. SLPD also proposes to track children through social media and private messaging systems.

The money requirement of the COPS Grant will spend much of the Measure HH funds on a few police, without public transparency. This is not how the tax measure was sold to San Leandro citizens.

SAFE invites all concerned parents, students and community member to come out tonight to the City Council meeting at 7pm to express opposition to this surveillance plan and misuse of funds in San Leandro.

The following is the SLPD’s planned used for the COPS grant funds, as stated in page 10, item 14 of the COPS grant application (emphasis added):

The San Leandro Police Department is committed to improving its technology capabilities, both as it relates to monitoring and public communications. We feel strongly that it is essential to understand and use technology that our youth are reliant on in today’s expanding technological world. The four additional SRO officers would be tasked with working with the city’s technology experts to create an online system that can monitor youth from first signs of risk through the school system. As school administration and officers change, this would enable our SROs to know when to check-in with youth, engage them in positive opportunities and connect them to necessary preventive services. Our goal is to build relationships in elementary school years that last through graduation. It is essential for information to be readily available to SROs and to be able to save and monitor data/changes to enable the SRO time to interact with students and develop positive trust-based relationships. The additional SROs will the SLPD time to be actively involved in the community, identifying and discovering how to best work with and engage youth as well as the community and establishing a positive rapport. With funding, the SLPD also plans to increase its use of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat) to monitor youth activities as well as communicate with students and our community. We plan to utilize posts on these sites to alert the public about available activities and warn them of threats.

Oct 122014

ballotState Propositions

Prop 1: NO

Prop 1 is a bond measure that would raise billions to be spent on water infrastructure. Over 2 billion would be use to build dams, which has negative environmental consequences. The bond would be pay back from the state’s general fund, rather than by imposing fees to the agricultural businesses that will mostly benefit from this measure. Here is a useful and simple independent analysis of the bill.

Prop 2: NO

Prop 2 requires that 1.5% of general fund revenues be put into reserves. Half the money would go to pay off debt, and the other to be used in case of a fiscal emergency.  While it sounds good in theory, it would be up to the Governor alone to declare such fiscal emergency, which concentrates too much power in the Governor’s office.  In addition, in lean years, the Legislature would have to cut spending to make its required deposit – which is likely to happen on the back of the neediest.  Indeed, the proposition also eliminates the need to pay back school districts for the years where the state does not meet its full financial obligations towards education.  In all, this may serve Wall Street, but won’t serve California.  Here is a useful and simple independent analysis of the measure.

Prop 45: YES

Prop 45 basically extends the Insurance Commissioner’s power to regulate car insurance rates to medical insurance.  It will give the Insurance Commissioner the power to not approve health insurance rate increases if they are not justified by rising expenditures.  It’s that simple.

Health insurance rates have been going up immensely in the last few years, and the Affordable Care Act has had the perverse side effect of increasing them.  This is because under the ACA, insurance companies must spend a fixed percentage of their revenue on medical care.  This means, however, that their profit has decrease. The only way they can bring it back up is by increasing their revenues, and therefore their rates.

Insurance companies have been claiming that Prop 45 interferes with Obamacare, but it’s exactly the opposite, it makes if possible for people to chose to get health insurance rather than pay the fine.

Prop 46: NO

Trial lawyers, and victims of medical malpractice, justifiably want to raise the award caps on pain and suffering.  However, in order to sell this proposition to a public weary of huge jury awards, they’ve added to the measure two very objectionable mandates.  One is random drug testing for doctors.  We don’t have enough physicians as it is in  California, driving them away by subjecting them to such humiliating and unnecessary practices is unconscionable.  The other, is the requirement that all medical professionals check a database that contains a list of schedule II prescriptions for Californians.  That means that a person’s private medical information will be massively disseminated, with potential terrible results.

Prop 47: YES

Prop 48: NO

I’m a bit torn on this proposition and I want to do a little bit more research, but as of now I’m voting “No”.  Prop 48 allows and Indian tribe whose reservation is not adequate for housing a casino, to put a casino in land they buy outside the reservation.  The proposition is being fought by the Indian tribes that already have casinos and don’t want the competition.

Personally, I think we should not be building any more casinos.  They take money away from the people who most need it, and they abuse natural resources – from electricity to water.

Still, apparently one of the reasons why they could not build a casino in their tribal lands, is that these are environmentally fragile.  Before voting No I want to make sure that the tribe will not respond by going ahead and destroying their own environment.

County Proposition

Measure BB: YES

As a matter of principle, I do not support sale taxes. They are regressive and they affect the poor the most.  Measure BB is particularly problematic as it doubles the county transportation tax to 1%. That’s a significant increase for people who are already struggling to survive day to day.

However, the proceeds from the tax will be used exclusively to fix and improve transportation throughout Alameda County, and this is something that affects us all.  Streets and roads countywide are in great need of repairs, the longer we put off doing it, the more expensive it will be both in terms of repair costs and in terms of the economic consequences of living with bad roads.  As global warming becomes a greater and greater concern, we need whatever is possible to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we release into the atmosphere.  This means we need to drive less, walk and bike more and use public transportation.  And that means we need to invest in safe and useful bike routes and on our public transportation system.  Ultimately, this is something that will benefit everyone, including the poor, both by improving the services they already use and by stimulating the economy, which hopefully will mean more and better paying jobs.

San Leandro Measures

Measure HH: NO

Unlike Measure BB, there are no limitations on what Measure HH funds can be used.  The City commissioned a survey to let them know how to best sell this tax increase to voters.  The survey found voters were more likely to vote for a tax that would go to maintain emergency services, libraries, programs for teens, public safety and fix roads, so the City is claiming that that’s what the funds will go for.  There is no reason to believe them, however.  When they passed Measure Z in 2010, they said it was an emergency measure that would pay for exactly those same services.  Instead, the proceeds went to service accumulated debt and refinance the city’s pension obligations.  It may very well be that the City has legitimate needs for these funds, but it has not been candid with voters as to what those are.

Similarly, the City has been deceitful as to the amount and length of this tax.  It has marketed it as an “extension” of Measure Z, when Measure Z was a 1/4-cent emergency tax that was set to expire in 8 years.  Measure HH, on the other hand is, for all intents and purposes, a permanent tax (it expires in 30 years!) twice as large as Measure Z.

While we may not know exactly where Measure HH funds will go to, it’s very likely that a significant portion of them will go towards militarizing the San Leandro Police Department.   The City already has plans for an expansive upgrade to the Police Department facilities, is in the process of installing surveillance cameras in town and has been acquiring military weapons.  Another significant percentage of the proceeds will go, of necessity, to pay for employee pensions, some of which are well into the six figures.

Meanwhile, the tax will mostly affect the poorest in San Leandro, who may already be burdened by the Measure BB tax.

Measure II: NO

Measure II has the Vice-Mayor term starting in January rather than in June.   This measure came about because Councilmember Diana Souza wanted to be able to run for Mayor using the Vice-Mayor designation.  However, she could not be elected Vice-Mayor this June, as her City Council term finished in December, and she would have been unable to complete the year-long Vice-Mayor term.  This would not have been a problem if the Vice-Mayor term started in January.  Moving the term to January, therefore, will make it possible for a councilmember in the last year of their term who plans to run for mayor, to become Vice-Mayor and gain an unfair advantage over his opponents in the mayoral race.

Oct 012014

NotesThe following are the tweets sent by Mike Katz-Lacabe from the Transportation & Housing that took place on 9/22/14 at main library.

Keith Cooke: San Leandro is currently building a network of Class 2 and 3 bike paths. Limited by funding & because city is older.

First meetings for San Leandro’s General Plan update: Oct. 23 at Sr. Comm. Center & Oct. 28 at Marina Comm. Center

San Leandro spent $15 million on streets in past 5 years. Just $750k was from general fund. Condition of roads in steady decline.

In San Leandro, 9% of all streets require reconstruction, 32% require asphalt overlay, 48% require other work.

San Leandro needs to spend $7 million/yr to maintain current road conditions for 5 yrs; $16.5 million/yr to get roads to county avg in 5 yrs

Seismic retrofit of San Leandro Bayfair BART station starts Apr. 2015 and scheduled to finish Feb. 2017. Also adding 3rd track/2nd platform.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in San Leandro: From Oakland border all the way to downtown BART station.

BRT features: Buses arrive every 5 minutes Dedicated lanes Signal priority sys Covered stations Prepaid boarding Level & multi-door boarding

Station and roadway construction for BRT in San Leandro scheduled to start mid-2015

San Leandro, BART, AC Transit all mentioned funding. Art Dao, Exec. Dir. of Alameda Co. Transp. Comm., now reviewing benefits of Measure B.

ACTC’s Art Dao doesn’t tell audience how to vote on Measure BB, but does note all of its benefits: jobs, reduce congestion, econ. activity

Measure BB will provide $3.6 million annually to City of San Leandro. BB would double 0.5% transportation sales tax & expire in 2045.

Sep 172014

In the last week there have been two poorly-advertised and poorly-attended Mayoral and City Council candidate fora in San Leandro.  Mike Katz-Lacabe tweeted from the Mayoral fora.  He’s running for City Council himself, so he couldn’t report on that part of the fora, though he did note some of the “lightening questions” from the first forum.

Update: See also responses to the APA Caucus questionnaire below.

City Council Candidates

All San Leandro City Council candidates favored a marina with small boats – in other words, no support for paying to dredge the channel.

All San Leandro City Council candidates said that they did not support surveillance cameras throughout city. Leah Hall was late so no answer

San Leandro City Council candidate Deborah Cox said she supports marijuana dispensary but spoke against it at June 18, 2012, City Council meeting

All San Leandro City Council candidates say they support marijuana dispensary except Lee Thomas.

All San Leandro City Council candidates support ranked choice voting except Dist. 1 candidates David Anderson & Deborah Cox.

Mayoral Candidates

Dan Dillman says San Leandro’s pressing problem is perception. It’s a beautiful city.

Pauline Cutter says San Leandro’s most pressing problem is economics.

Diana Souza says San Leandro’s most pressing problem are the streets.  (The street conditions decreased every year she’s been a Councilmember).

Mayoral candidates on Marina: Cutter: exciting new development planned. Dillman: what voters want. Souza: new restaurants, hotel, conference center

San Leandro mayor candidate Souza asks for other candidates’ views on rent stabilization. Cutter: we need to consider. Dillman: what voters want.

San Leandro mayoral candidates on city staffing: Souza & Cutter: more cops. Dillman: use police from CHP, BART, Sheriff, Parks.

San Leandro mayoral candidate Diana Souza says working poor can be helped by recreational programs for youth, seniors and adults.

Breaking news: All San Leandro mayoral candidates support transparency at City Hall. Cutter & Dillman mention improving meeting minutes.

San Leandro mayoral candidates on red light cameras: Cutter and Dillman oppose. Souza supports. Thinks they save lives.

San Leandro mayor candidates on SLPD acquisition of armored personnel carrier: Dillman opposed, Cutter researching, Souza supports.

San Leandro mayor candidates on Measure HH: (sales tax increase for 30 years) Dillman opposed to length. Cutter & Souza support HH.

San Leandro Mayoral candidates on whether they support marijuana dispensary: Cutter and Dillman: yes; Souza: No.

San Leandro Mayoral candidates on whether to keep ranked choice voting: Cutter says yes, Souza says no & Dillman says “what voters want.”

San Leandro Mayoral candidates on flying the flag of other countries: Cutter says no, Souza says yes, and Dillman says: whatever voters want.

Note: During the interviews for the Democratic Party endorsement, Souza and Cutter clarified that they are in favor of surveillance cameras, just not throughout the city.

APA Caucus Questionnaires

While many organizations ask candidates to fill out questionnaires, very few actually make the answers public.  The Asian Pacific American Democratic Caucus of Alameda County is the exception.  Here are the answers from San Leandro Candidates to APA Caucus questionnaires:

San Leandro, Mayor

San Leandro, City Council

District 1

District 3

District 5