Feb 102015

My husband, Mike Katz-Lacabe, is a human rights and privacy advocate. Several years ago, he discovered that the SLPD was secretly using license plate cameras to photograph both cars and the areas around them – and were keeping those records indefinitely.  Since then, police departments have refused to share this data from citizens, but if you drive a car in the Bay Area, you can assume that the police has access to hundreds of photos of your car, you and the area around it.

Mike’s activities have been covered by the news media. Here, in reverse chronological order, are stories that are derived from actual interviews with him:

Oh, how the kids have grown since this 2009 photograph from the SLPD archives.

Oh, how the kids have grown since this 2009 photograph from the SLPD archives.

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

May 132011

4/17 Update: As I feared, the City Council has voted to get rid of full minutes. One more step towards hiding what they say and do.

If Mayor Cassidy has his way, as of next Monday the San Leandro City Council will be making it much harder for the public to find out what they’ve been up to.  The City Council is planning to vote to eliminate regular minutes of all public meetings and  replace them with “Action Minutes”. While regular minutes include a summary of what was said and done in City Council and other public meetings, Action Minutes only record the actions taken by the City Council.   Council members (and the public) will no longer have to fear being held accountable for their words: nobody will know about them.

Cassidy argues that there is no need for full minutes of Council meetings because these are now recorded and the audio is made available online.  However, audio is non-searchable.  Unless you know precisely when someone said what, you might end up having to listen to hours and hours of city council meetings looking for the particular statement/position you are interested in hearing.  The audio of the meetings made available by the city is of very low quality, so using current technology it can’t be automatically transcribed.  Cassidy also argues that staff spend an inordinate amount of time composing the minutes of public meetings.  I am sure that is true, but I daresay they will spend just as much time going back and listening to old meeting recordings when the City Council itself needs to refer to old issues.  Why is it that they voted for Red Light Cameras back in 2011?  What other alternatives were provided?  The only way to find out will be for a staff member to listen to hours of audio.  In addition, as important as saving staff time is, it’s even more important to keep local government actions transparent and the public informed.

I think what’s really behind this move to get rid of full minutes is the same thing behind the move to delete City government e-mails: a desire by City Council members and staff to not be held accountable for their words and actions.  They want to be able to flip-flop and say and do inappropriate things with impunity.

If you care about maintaining transparency in local government, please write to the City Council and ask them to vote NO on switching to Action Minutes. You can e-mail them all together by pressing here.