Stephen Cassidy

Stephen Cassidy is the current Mayor of San Leandro. He was elected in 2010 and is expected to run for re-election in 2014. He is a partner at a large class-action law firm, but specializes in public relations.

Cassidy has, overall, been an absent an ineffective mayor. His major focus was on bringing pension reform to San Leandro. He campaigned on a platform of forcing city employees to pay their own share of pension contributions, and thus saving the City $3M a year. While he managed to get the employees to agree to pay their share, they did so in exchange for raises of an equal amount, leaving the City with higher payroll tax obligations but no actual savings.

Cassidy has also been frequently criticized on this blog for his attempts to do away with transparency of City operations. He did away with minutes from City Council meetings, so that now the only way of knowing what was said at a meeting is to listen to the audio recording. The recordings are of such bad quality that they don’t work with transcription software. Cassidy has also consistently violated the Brown Act and, under his administration, the City has started to also violate the California Public Records Act.

Cassidy’s administration has been plagued by examples of Police corruption and abuse, including the conviction of an SLPD narcotics officer for selling drugs to an informant, the persecution of men thought to be seeking homosexual encounters near a public park, the killing of an unarmed mentally-ill man and the growth in surveillance of citizens. Cassidy has a been a big supporter of the Chief of Police and advocated that she be given a large race and multi-year contract.

Cassidy is also criticized for his lack of leadership, his inability to forge friendly relations with City, community and political leaders, and the lack of time and concern he spends on the City.

On the plus side, Cassidy is significantly more intelligent and somewhat less petty than former Mayor Tony Santos, whom he defeated in 2010.

Jul 242014

The July 23rd Council meeting went extremely long. Mike had gone to speak in favor of a strong privacy policy for surveillance data, and didn’t get to do so until nearly 11. Before that he tweeted from the meeting. My comments are in italics. The Tweets have been organized by subject. Follow him @slbytes.

The only City Council candidates present at the meeting were Mike Katz-Lacabe and Mia Ousley.

San Leandro City Council to discuss Heron Bay wind turbine lawsuit in closed session on Monday 7/21.

Surveillance camera policy is on the agenda for Monday night’s 7/21 San Leandro City Council.

Councilmember Jim Prola is absent from tonight’s San Leandro City Council meeting.

pickardCongratulations Officer Pickard for being recognized as the City of San Leandro employee of the quarter!

Kinkini Banerjee & family accept Proclamation from Mayor Cassidy declaring Aug. 2014 as Indo-American Heritage Month.

Kinkini is one of my best friends and I love her, but I wonder why India West was not invited to receive the proclamation or at least attend the ceremony. India West is the largest Indian-American newspaper in the US, and it’s based in San Leandro!

LINKS shuttle

San Leandro LINKS shuttle: 6.25 mile loop, 23 stops to connect W. San Leandro to downtown BART. Hours: 5:45am-9:45am and 3-7pm

Bike racks added in past year. Avg. 737 riders per day. 191,646 total riders in 2013.

Goals for San Leandro LINKS: shorten route to reduce time, reach Marina Sq./Auto Mall, service to Westgate, Kaiser, 21st Amendment Brewery.

Proposed change to San Leandro LINKs to meet goals: split route into north and south routes to reduce wait and trip times.

Proposed change to San Leandro LINKS will cost: $50k from City, $165k more from business improvement dist. & $130k more from grants/business

Mayoral candidate Diana Souza sounds supportive of San Leandro LINKS. She voted against it on 3/16/09.

Former San Leandro Councilmember Gordon Galvan is Exec Dir of San Leandro Transportation Mngmnt Org, which runs LINKS shuttle.

Mayor Cassidy wants to add San Leandro to the LINKS shuttle name a la “Emery Go Round” since the City will be partially funding it.

Diana Souza had been very critical of the LINKS shuttle until now. Her change of face is interesting. Gordon Galvan, who not only runs the shuttle but is also a lobbyist, was one of main contributors to Cassidy’s campaign.


San Leandro City Council voted 6-0 to impose liens for non-payment of bus. license fees, garbage fees, sidewalk repairs, and code compliance.

Among those with liens imposed by San Leandro for non-payment of business license fees: Diana Souza campaign mgr Charles Gilcrest.

I was at the council meeting last year where the Council voted to place liens and one of the business owners who appeared complained about the cumbersome system for paying business license fees, the immediate fines and lack of communication from the city. Apparently things haven’t changed as there were many liens imposed.

Floresta Gate

Much discussion about a gate for the Floresta Gardens neighborhood.

Karen Williams of Floresta Gardens asking for gate to reduce crime from non-residents. City discourages gates communities.

San Leandro City Council approves gate on Caliente Drive for Floresta Gardens neighborhood 4-2. Gregory and Lee vote no.

Facebook comment: A neighborhood in Fremont was asking for a gate along the Alameda Creek a few years ago. After a few months of curfew enforcement and checks at the location of concern we found most of the trouble actually originated from the HOA family members and guest.

Public Comments

First speaker addresses issue of children arriving in US from Central America.

Second speaker supports San Leandro Marina. Work session Mon. 7/28 on marina and shoreline.

Marijuana Dispensaries

San Leandro selects ICF International to help craft dispensary selection process. Mass. paid $335,449 to ICFI for similar work.

San Leandro Councilmember Diana Souza recuses herself because son works for pot dispensary that will apply for San Leandro dispensary.

Nothing in the government code requires Souza from disqualifying herself from this situation, but she doesn’t want to be in record voting against medical marijuana facilities. Alas, she has been on the record speaking and voting against them before. Souza, however, did not feel she needed to recuse herself on a vote concerning the property belonging to her own campaign manager.

Surveillance Cameras

Next up: vote on 36 cameras to monitor San Leandro City Hall and other city properties.

Mayor Cassidy clarifies that the upcoming vote does not approve a policy or anything to do with public surveillance cameras.

San Leandro Councilmember Benny Lee asks about backup of the data and whether backups are encrypted: Answer from staff: I believe so.

San Leandro City Council candidate Mia Ousley notes deficiency in draft surveillance camera policy and confusion about the agenda item.

San Leandro City Council votes 6-0 to approve $156k contract with Odin Systems for City Hall cameras. Not sure if it was sole source contract [later confirmed it was].

Pittsburg PD purchased cameras from Odin Systems. SLPD Chief Sandra Spagnoli used Pittsburg as example of video surveillance success.

However, San Leandro had greater reduction in crime without cameras than Pittsburg with cameras.

Odin Systems recently “donated” 60-inch monitor to Pittsburg PD, which paid thousands for cameras from them

No bid contract approved by San Leandro City Council Mon. 7/21 includes cameras with microphones for audio surveillance [which is unconstitutional].

Facebook comment from Mia Ousley, who was also at the meeting:

Only 3 people spoke out at last night’s meeting — all against the policy as is. However, in a confusing intro, Mayor Cassidy said the Council was not voting on a potential future plan to increase the number of cameras, which is what was written in the printed or online agenda. He said that information was only in the title and was misleading. However, I don’t see it that way at all, so it’s unclear to me what the Council actually unanimously agreed to — just replacing the current cameras at our Civic Center or a plan to install cameras at other areas in the city in the future. So I decided to address that issue anyway, saying oversight must be by a neutral party, and that decisions should come from the City Council, which would allow thorough vetting by the public.

Mike Katz-Lacabe agreed, and also discussed additional security and privacy issues that were not addressed in the proposed policy.

Darlene Evans was the only other speaker on the topic, saying her bike had been stolen from the library, where there was a camera, but the officers there told her spiders covered the camera and they couldn’t see anything.

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.

May 042014
Mayor Stephen Cassidy

Mayor Stephen Cassidy

San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy announced today that he will not be seeking re-election for a second term as Mayor.  The news are unexpected, Cassidy had launched his re-election campaign with a kickoff fundraiser on St. Patrick’s day of this year.  Cassidy cites the difficulties of campaigning while also working full time, raising a family and performing his duties as Mayor.    Cassidy had no declared challengers at the time of his announcement.

Cassidy’s exit from the race leaves the field wide open for anyone who may want to run for the office.  With six months to go before the election, the biggest challenges will be fundraising and creating name recognition.

Two candidates are already likely to enter the scene.  Council member Diana Souza had long made the rounds trying to garner support for a campaign.  She hadn’t been very successful, but with Cassidy out of the way she has a shot.  Souza, however, was one of the candidates who voted to raise the Chinese flag over San Leandro City Hall, a very unpopular move with voters. She has, otherwise, a non-existent record of accomplishments.

Dan Dillman, the owner of the Historic Bal Theater, has also indicated he might run for this office.  Dillman ran for the District 2 City Council race in 2012, and commanded a respectful 25% of the vote despite virtually no campaigning.

Cassidy’s exit from the raise reinforces the urgency of turning the Mayor’s job into a full-time position with a corresponding salary.  It is very difficult for any person who has a full-time job and is raising a family to also successfully fulfill the responsibilities as Mayor.   And yet, some of the most competent and qualified candidates are exactly in that position.  I hope whoever is elected moves the city in that direction.

Mayor Stephen Cassidy’s statement

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

I have concluded it is in the best interests of our city and my family that I focus on serving as Mayor for the remainder of my term, which expires at the end of the year.

When I originally ran for office, I did not have the responsibility of governing. I have come to the realization that adding campaigning to my list of duties would mean the compromise of too many important existing responsibilities. I wish this was the not case. But I see no way I can meet my obligations as Mayor at a high level, as well as my work duties and be present for my young daughters, while also running a vigorous campaign for re-election.

I am proud of the renaissance that is occurring in San Leandro. The San Francisco Business Times recently reported that our city is “buzzing with a fresh technology focus.” In five weeks, the state-of-the-art San Leandro Kaiser hospital will open. Last month, the City Council unanimously approved construction of a commercial district for tech firms and other companies at the forefront of today’s innovation economy. Three, Class A office buildings will be built on the vacant lot next to the San Leandro BART station, creating nearly 2,000 quality jobs.

Much more can be accomplished this year. Again, I will complete my term as Mayor.

I look forward to working with the community and my colleagues on the City Council to place a revenue measure on the November ballot to repair our deteriorating neighborhood streets, create a commission of residents to foster and support the arts and culture in our city, and extend Lit San Leandro, our ultra high speed broadband network, to our schools.

It has been a privilege to serve you and the people of San Leandro as Mayor, and previously as a school board trustee. Thank you for enabling me to have such honors.

After my term as Mayor end on December 31, 2014, I will remain active in our community. I love San Leandro and look forward to continuing to make a positive difference for our city.



Apr 092014

ecigarettesmokingCity Moves to Ban E-Cigarettes Despite Lack of Complaints About Their Use

Last Month, the San Leandro City Council was set pass amendments to the City’s anti-smoking ordinance, as part of the consent calendar, that would prohibit the use of e-cigarettes to consume tobacco or marijuana everywhere where tobacco smoking cigarettes is prohibited today.  The ordinance also included a ban of smoking medical marijuana in private residences and after complaints by citizens Mayor Stephen Cassidy decided to take it off the agenda and bring it back, in an amended format, some time this month.

The staff report that accompanied the amendments to the anti-smoking ordinance provided very little justification for the e-cigarette restrictions, saying basically that City staff had seen people using e-cigarettes in city property and that there are health concerns about e-cigarettes. It cited no studies nor records of complaints.

In order to ascertain whether the use of e-cigarettes is a problem in San Leandro, I filed a California Public Records Act (CPRA) request for:

Any record of any complaint by any person filed or made to the City, City staff and/or the San Leandro Police Department concerning smoking of cigarettes or marijuana, or the use of e-cigarettes or other vaporing devices.

I limited my request for complaints filed from 2012 inclusively to the present, as e-cigarettes have become popular mostly in the last couple of years and the City is very slow in fulfilling long CPRA requests.

It turned out, however, that my search only originated three records detailing five complaints of smoking made to City staff and Police from 2012 to 2014. Four of these concerned cigarette smoking in apartment buildings.  The remaining complaint was about a man smoking marijuana in a bathroom stall at the Main Library.  There were no complaints whatsoever concerning e-cigarettes or marijuana smoking in multi-unit housing. 

The lack of complaints about the use of e-cigarettes, coupled with the absence of scientific evidence on the dangers of “second hand vapor,” puts the City in legal peril if it approves the ordinance without further consideration.  To pass Constitutional muster, any ordinance or law must be “rationally related” to a “legitimate” governmental interest.  It doesn’t take much to meet this standard, but it does require at least a de minimis consideration of what the government interest is and how the ordinance relates to it.  Other cities and states that have restricted the use of e-cigarettes have only done so after holding public meetings on the subject and considering the testimony of experts and members of the public.  If San Leandro moves forward with the ordinance without doing the same, it risks a protracted and expensive legal battle to defend its ordinance.  E-cigarette companies have already taken note.  The log of CPRA requests published in the last City Manager’s newsletter indicates a request for the staff report on this ordinance made by a research analyst at MultiState Associates, a lobbying firm that works for the e-cigarette industry.

Even if the City finds a rational basis to restrict the use of e-cigarettes for consuming tobacco, it should not extend the restrictions to the use of the devices to inhale medical marijuana.  E-cigarettes give medical marijuana patients an easy to use, discreet and safe way to take the medicine they need for pain management or other relief.  The ordinance as it stands would stop them from using an e-cigarette to take medical marijuana in any public place or place of work – thus forcing patients to go back home or go to the sidewalk.  Given the absolute lack of complaints about the use of e-cigarettes, there seems to be no moral justification for adding this burden to people who are already ill.

Mar 142014

police-beat-marijuana-patientBan extends to e-cigarettes, Public not given notice

UPDATE: After I sounded the alarm on this issue, Mayor Cassidy took the item off the agenda for the March 17th meeting.  He claims that the prohibition of smoking/vaping marijuana in multi-family homes was included by mistake.  He says a revised ordinance will come back for a vote in April.  The revised ordinance, however, is also injurious to medical marijuana patients, as they will not be able to take their medicine safely when they’re away from their homes.

The San Leandro City Council sneaked a very controversial issue into its agenda for Monday March 17th’ meeting: a total ban on marijuana smoking in multi-family housing buildings.  The ban extends to widely-defined public spaces and places of employment.  It would leave detached private homes  as the only places in San Leandro where a patient could legally smoke marijuana.

The new ordinance, which  expands the definition of smoking to include using an electronic cigarette or vaporizer, allows the District Attorney to charge violations as misdemeanors.   It also imposes criminal liability on landlords or property owners who knowingly permit smoking anywhere where it’s illegal. This means, that if a landlord finds out that a tenant in a multi-family dwelling smokes marijuana, he will have to get the tenant to stop or risk prosecution himself.  This is likely to result in landlords turning in tenants to the Police or evicting them to avoid being prosecuted themselves.  Caretakers can also be criminally prosecuted,  as the Municipal Code already says that “causing, permitting, aiding, abetting, or concealing a violation of any provision of [the anti-smoking law] shall also constitute a violation.”

While prosecution is at the discretion of the DA, the City is able to assess fines.  Enforcement of the smoking ordinance, moreover, is in the hands of the San Leandro Police Department, which does not have a good reputation for fair enforcement of the law.  The code, moreover, allows for private prosecution of the anti-smoking ordinance, so anyone who has a problem with someone they know to smoke marijuana and live in multi-family housing, can use the law to harass them.

The new ordinance will continue to permit smoking tobacco in multi-family housing and hotels, but would ban the use of e-cigarettes, in all public and semi-public areas where tobacco smoking is prohibited now.

As troubling as the ordinance itself, is how it’s being passed.  It was added to the consent calendar for the City Council’s next meeting, meaning that it’s meant to be voted on without any discussion by City Council members and without the opportunity for community members to give their input.  This may still be changed, if the Mayor or a Council member moves to take the item off the consent calendar, but that is not guaranteed.

Moreover, the description of the ordinance in neither the agenda nor the staff report prepared by City Attorney Richard Pio Roda, disclose the actual effect of the ordinance.  The full explanation/justification for the marijuana ban in the report is as follows: “Another change is that the existing ordinance is amended to clarify that smoking marijuana is not permitted at certain “exempt” locations where smoking is allowed, such as the golf courses located within the City.”  It’s only by looking at the list of “exempt locations” in the Municipal Code – not quoted in the staff report – that the reader will be able to tell that these include multi-family housing.

However you look at it, this ordinance will deeply restrict the individual rights of e-cigarette users, medical marijuana patients, caretakers and property owners.  To pass it without any discussion or notice to the pubic is unconscionable.  I asked Mayor Cassidy to take it off the consent calendar to no avail.

To express your views on this ordinance, please attend the March 17th City Council meeting at 7 PM at the San Leandro City Hall. In addition, please e-mail the City Council.

What the Ordinance Does:

– Treats e-cigarettes as regular cigarettes, and vapor as smoke.

San Leandro Municipal Code 4-12-105 n-and-o currently define smoking as

“possessing a lighted pipe, lighted cigar, or lighted cigarette of any kind, or the lighting of a pipe, cigar, hookah, shisha, or cigarette of any kind, including, but not limited to, tobacco, or any other weed or plant”

and tobacco as

“any substance containing tobacco leaf, including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, snuff, chewing tobacco, dipping tobacco, bidis, or any other preparation of tobacco.”

The new ordinance replaces the two articles above with the two following ones:

Smoke means the gases, particles, or vapors released into the air as a result of
combustion, electrical ignition or vaporization, when the apparent or usual purpose of the
combustion, electrical ignition or vaporization is human inhalation of the byproducts, except
when the combusting or vaporizing material contains no tobacco or nicotine and the purpose
of inhalation is solely olfactory, such as, for example, smoke from incense. The term “smoke”
includes, but is not limited to, tobacco smoke, electronic cigarette vapors, and marijuana
smoke. The term “smoke” also includes vapor generated through the use of an electronic
cigarette in any manner or in any form.

Smoking means engaging in an act that generates smoke, such as for example:
possessing a lighted pipe, lighted hookah pipe or shisha pipe, an operating electronic
cigarette, a lighted cigar, or a lighted cigarette of any kind; or lighting or igniting of a pipe,
cigar, hookah pipe, cigarette of any kind, or any other weed or plant.

– Continues to prohibit tobacco and marijuana smoking in public places, places of employment and some other areas

MC 4-12-200 bans smoking in enclosed public places, places of employment and enclosed spaces that share an air-space (e.g. through a window or door) or a ventilation/AC/heating system with an enclosed public place or place of employment.

MC 4-12-205 bans smoking in unenclosed public places, places of employment, service/ticket/boarding/waiting areas, parks, playgrounds, athletic facilities and the sites of public events.

– Public places are defined (MC 4-12-105-i)  as “any place, public or private, open to the general public regardless of any fee or age requirement, including, for example, bars, restaurants, clubs, stores, shopping malls, stadiums, parks, playgrounds, taxis, and buses.”

– Places of employment are defined (MC 4-12-105-g) as “any area under the legal or de facto control of an employer, business or nonprofit entity that an employee or the general public may have cause to enter in the normal course of operations, but regardless of the hours of operation, including, for example, indoor and outdoor work areas, construction sites, vehicles used in employment or for business purposes, taxis, employee lounges, conference and banquet rooms, bingo and gaming facilities, long-term health facilities, warehouses, enclosed common areas of multi-family housing buildings, and private residences that are used as child care or health care facilities subject to licensing requirements regardless of their hours of operation”

– Enclosed spaces are defined (MC 4-12-105-3) as spaces that are partially or totally covered and have more than 50% of their perimeter area walled in (e.g. a covered porch) or that are open to the sky and have more than 75% of their perimeter walled in (e.g. courtyard)

– Continue to permit tobacco smoking in private residential units, tobacco shops and two golf courses.

The language of MC 4-12-200 would make it illegal to smoke in most apartments, condos and even townhomes with a common area, including a car port.  For this reason, the code (MC 4-12-210) establishes an exception for smoking in private residential units. The exception also extends to smoking in tobacco shops, up to 25% of hotel rooms and two golf courses.

– Prohibit smoking or vaporing marijuana in private residential units in multi-family housing

The exception that allows people to smoke cigarettes in their apartments or condos will explicitly exclude marijuana.

– Prohibits Landlords from knowingly permitting marijuana smoking in their property.

Property owners are already prohibited from allowing tobacco smoking in areas where the City prohibits smoking (MC 4-12-400).  This would extend that prohibition to allowing marijuana smoking.  Given that cigarette smoking is permitted in private multi-housing homes, this actually creates a new and cumbersome legal liability on landlords and property owners.   For example, if an elderly relative is staying with you while undergoing cancer treatment and they use marijuana to deal with the nausea, you would have to stop them from doing it or risk being prosecuted for a crime.  A landlord who finds out one of their tenants smokes marijuana, might need to evict them or call the Police on them to escape criminal liability.

– Treats Recreational Marijuana and Medical Marijuana identically

The ordinance does not distinguish between a patient smoking legally obtained marijuana and a person smoking marijuana recreationally.

– Does Not Prohibit Marijuana Edibles

Patients will continue to be able to consume edibles that include marijuana or marijuana extract/oil.  However, not all patients are able to consume marijuana in this manner.