Pauline Cutter

Pauline Cutter is the current Mayor of San Leandro.

Before that she served for many years in the San Leandro School Board, and was elected Board president by her peers three times. She spent one term in the City Council before being elected Mayor. She’s a pre-school teacher by profession but has promised to be a full-time Mayor.

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.

 

 

Dec 082014
 

Police-ShootingOver the last three days, we’ve had two shootings of women  driving allegedly stolen cars by San Leandro Police Department officers.  One of them is in critical condition.   Police missed the other, a 16 year-old girl, though one bullet wheezed past a bystander and another hit a parked car a block away.  Fortunately, nobody was reportedly injured in that incident.  Shooting at a fleeing subject who is not a threat to the life of others is against the law.

There is no doubt that moral blame lies on the officers who did shoot. But the real culprits, the ones where most of the blame lies, are SLPD Chief Sandra Spagnoli and City Manager Chris Zapata.

While there are surely police officers who are itching to shoot someone, I believe most of them follow the protocols established by their chiefs of police. It would seem that SLPD’s protocols condone the shooting of fleeing vehicles.  The buck must thus stop with Chief of Police Sandra Spagnoli, who created such protocols.  But Spagnoli could only establish these protocols because City Manager Chris Zapata has disavowed any oversight of the police.  When I met with him a couple of months ago to discuss police misconduct, Zapata stated that the only time he has ever denied a request by the Police Chief was when she proposed that the City spend $60 million to build a new police department.  Zapata determined the City could not afford it.

Zapata did state that, contrary to the wishes of the Police Chief, he would disable the hidden microphones present in the surveillance cameras that were to be installed at City Hall.  But he admitted that he took that position after consulting with the City Attorney and learning that secret audio recording of private conversations, even in a public space, violates California’s wiretapping law.  Zapata stopped short of creating any audit requirements to ascertain that the microphones were, indeed, disabled.

 

Beyond these two situations, Zapata has given Spagnoli free reign.   The only “oversight” of the Chief there is, are weekly meetings with Assistant City manager Lianne Marshall, where, according to Marshall, the Chief informs her of the needs of the police department.

Mayor Pauline Cutter and the City Council have no direct oversight of the Chief, but they do of the City Manager. It’s time they demand accountability from him.

***

The City Council will hold their annual work session on the Police Department TONIGHT, Dec. 8, 2014, at 8 PM – after the swearing in of the new Mayor and City Council members.

On Thursday, Dec. 11th, the Police Department will hold an informational meeting on the police shootings. It will take place at the Senior Center (13909 E. 14th St.), from 5:30 to 6:30 PM.

Nov 132014
 

right_arrowIt’s time to face the facts.  Alameda County has ceased to be a home for liberals.  Perhaps we can trace this development to the replacement of the word “liberal” by the word “progressive,” perhaps to the broken promises of the Obama administration or even to 9/11.  Or perhaps the yuppy generation grew old, more afraid, more conservative.  In any case, policies throughout the county show that, by in large, liberal values have been abandoned.  We now welcome mass surveillance, the loss of fourth amendment rights and the militarization of police, under the fear or excuse of crime, even as crime has plummeted since the 1980’s.  We are willing to accept racial profiling by police almost as a fact of life.  We pass ordinances prohibiting the feeding of the homeless, the eviction of the poor and even attempt to criminalize people from sitting on the sidewalks.  And we elect conservative politicians.

Despite the claims of Democratic operatives and newspapers, this election has been terrible for liberals in Alameda County, at least as far as local governments goes.  In most local races, the more progressive candidates lost.  When they didn’t, it was because they were well-established incumbents, often facing token opposition, or as part of plurality elections, where multiple candidates split the vote.

Here is a brief analysis of how the City Council races turned out countywide.

Berkeley had three City Council seats up for election.  Incumbents Kriss Worthington and Linda Maio won. Worthington faced a more conservative challenger, while Maio was up against a more liberal one.  If anything, this was a wash.  As for District 8, the political distinctions among the candidates were minor.

In Oakland, Dan Siegel, the only actual liberal candidate for Mayor, did not win the election. Libby Schaaf moved to the left in the latest stages of her campaign, at the same time that she basked in the endorsements of  Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer, who have long abandoned the pretense of being progressive.  Early in the year, however, Schaaf was supported the establishment of the Domain Awareness Center, an intelligence fusion center that would allow government officials to better track the movements of regular people.  At the start of the election, Schaaf was actually lumped with Joe Tuman and Brian Parker as the most conservative viable candidates in the race.

All the viable candidates for Oakland City Council District 2 were equally progressive, some stronger in one area while weaker in another.  In District 6, incumbent Desley Brooks barely beat out a staffer for Libby Schaaf, whom would have likely been more conservative than Brooks.  Only in District 4 we see a clear win by a progressive candidate over a conservative one.  If there is one bright light on this election, it’s Annie Campbell Washington’s win.

Unfortunately, I did not follow the Emeryville City Council race, so I can’t judge where the candidates fell in the political spectrum, though I can say the two winners had the Democratic endorsement.

Trish Spencer was elected Mayor of Alameda.  She is significantly more liberal than incumbent Mary Gilmore, who supported the acquisition of license plate scanners and of an armored personnel carrier for the police, but Spencer ran on an anti-development platform which attracted many conservative votes.  Similar issues played out in the City Council race, where just three candidates vied for two seats.  The loser was the incumbent member of the Council who had voted to expand development.

In San Leandro, Pauline Cutter, a moderate Democrat was elected Mayor against a more conservative opponent – but the more liberal candidate was left in the dust.  The three City Council races saw the most conservative candidates win, all endorsed by the police union.

Results were just as bad in Fremont, where even a moderate Democrat who had the endorsement of the Police, was defeated by two of the most conservative candidates.  One is an ex-police officer who openly supports the militarization of the police.

Union City saw its two Democratic incumbent Council members get re-elected, as well as their Republican colleague.  Meanwhile in Newark, the Democratic Mayor won re-election against a Democratic opponent, and the two empty City Council seats were split between a Democrat and a Republican

In Pleasanton, the Republican Mayor won re-election and the two City Council seats were filled by Republicans.  Dublin Mayor and Assembly candidate Tim Sbranti was replaced by a Republican, though the two Democratic incumbent council members won re-election.  Tim Sbranti, by the way, lost the Assembly race to a Republican, the seat had been previously filled by a Democrat.

No Democrats even ran for City Council in Livermore.

The results were much better at the School Board level, but only because the trend was to see parents of students in their respective school districts get elected over non-district parents, regardless of their political views.

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 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.