Ursula Reed

May 202014

Here are my voting recommendations for the June 2014 election.  I’m a liberal Democrat, and the issues I’m most concerned about are good governance, transparency and accountability and the protection of human rights and civil liberties.   I only include competitive races for which I have a recommendation.


Secretary of State: Derek Cressman
The Secretary of State is responsible for elections in California. We need someone who is clean, ethical and committed to a democratic political process.  Derek Cressman headed a campaign reform advocacy organization and, among other things, wants to create a vetted multi-media online voter guide with actual useful information for voters.

Controller:  Betty Yee
Betty has the financial preparation and attention to detail that the office requires, plus she is committed to good governance and transparency.  Her Democratic opponent, Assembly speaker John Perez, has the arrogance to believe he should be elected just because of his current position and did not even bother to submit a ballot statement.

Measure 42: Yes
This will force City governments to continue making agendas for public meetings available to the public even if the state does not reimburse them for the cost.  It assures the public right to know.


Superintendent of Schools: Jeff Bowser or Helen K. Foster
I heard the candidates speak both at the interviews for the Democratic and the Oakland Tribune endorsements. They all did equally well on general issues, Bowser and Thomas have the best understanding of the financial situation. Karen Monroe will make it past June on the strength of her ballot designation alone. Naomi Eason is great but seems less prepared. Ursula Reed has done little to help schools while a San Leandro Councilmember, instead putting her efforts  into trying to get the communist Chinese flag to be flown over City Hall.

Measure AA: Yes
Not only should everyone have access to health care, when we don’t provide it for those who are most vulnerable, we endanger public health.


Mayor: Francisco Zermeño
Zermeño provides the best combination of love for Hayward, commitment to the community and ability to relate to everyday people.

City Council: Rocky Fernandez and Sara Lamnin
There are a number of good candidates, but I think these two have the greatest political experience and clearest progressive values to move Hayward forward.


CD 15: Ellen Corbett
Ellen is quiet but she’s a work horse, passing legislation that protects consumer rights and the environment. Her opponent, sitting Congressman Eric Swalwell, is a show horse with one intention only: remain in Congress at every cost, no matter how many ethical lines are crossed (including paying for delegates to vote for him and using congressional mail for campaign purposes). He has voted against civil liberties and opposes religious equality.

CD 17: Ro Khanna
Mike Honda is as true-blue a liberal as they come, and I’m very appreciative for his service,  but Khanna holds the same essential positions, only he does it with a greater, more thought-out foundation, more vigor and intelligence. Khanna has the potential to be the Democratic Party’s answer to both Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz and a true political leader for his generation and the country.


SD 10: Bob Wieckowski
Wieckowski is another quiet leader, turning out legislation that helps people without much fanfare. An ACLU-vetted bill to combat “revenge pornography” is just one of his latest accomplishments. The San Francisco Chronicle’s endorsement makes it clear why everyone should vote for this man.


AD 16: Tim Sbranti
Sbranti has done a good job of handling different interests in Dublin. While he’s not nearly as progressive as I, he’s the most progressive of the bunch.

AD 25: Teresa Cox

Teresa Cox is a fighter, she’s the first African-American woman to receive a degree in nuclear engineering, and she’s very smart, pragmatic and committed.  Those are all faculties that I believe we need in the Assembly. She is also less indebted to special interests that some of her opponents.

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.

Jun 102013
A scene from the movie "Flowers in the Attic." The SLPD considers the book to be "child pornography".

A scene from the movie “Flowers in the Attic.” The SLPD considers the book to be “child pornography”.

An Open Letter to Chief Sandra Spagnoli

Dear Chief Spagnoli:

You have requested that the public alert you about “similar incidents” to those concerning the charges for child pornography filed against SLHS teacher Rick Styner.

According to court documents, as reported by the media, these charges arise from “more than 200 pornographic stories” found on his computer,  including one about a 14-year-old girl having sex with her brother, reportedly accompanied by the naked picture of a girl that looked to be underage.

The story mentioned in court records sounds very much like “Flowers In The Attic
“, the best seller by V. C. Andrews.  The novel – which was made into a very bad movie
– concerns four siblings that are raised hidden in an attic and repeatedly abused.  As the children enter puberty, the older siblings start to develop sexual feelings for one another, and they consummate that relationship when the girl is 14 years old.
I have checked the San Leandro library catalog, and it would seem that the library does have multiple copies of this “pornographic story”.  It would thus seem prudent that the SLPD get warrants to search the homes and computers of all library personnel responsible for distributing such “child pornography”.

“Flowers in the Attic” has sold over 40 million copies worldwide, and it’s a favorite among teenage readers.  It would therefore seems likely that the book is also present in San Leandro school libraries and English classrooms. The SLPD should not take any chances and start investigations into all SLUSD librarians and English-language teachers.  Perhaps the SLPD should get a court order to have Amazon.com and other booksellers disclose the identity of everyone in the city that has bought a copy of this “pornographic” novel, so the investigation can become even more inclusive.   Who knows what other untold crimes people who read this story may be committing?

Of course, I understand that the problem is not only this “pornographic story” in Mr. Styner’s computer, but the fact that it was illustrated with a picture of someone who appeared to be underage.  While there may be a question about the age of the model in that photograph, there is no question that actress Thora Birch was only 16 when she appeared nude in the Oscar winning film American Beauty.  The main library, and undoubtedly hundreds of San Leandrans, have a copy of this movie and thus, according to SLPD standards, seem to be in possession of “child pornography.”

As you probably also know, when I wrote my article on the Styner investigation, I linked to pictures of Brooke Shields in Pretty Baby
– a movie in which she appeared nude when she was barely 12 years old.  Not only should the SLPD thus be able to arrest me, but everyone who read my story and clicked on the link.  I should be able to provide for the Chief the IP addresses of everyone in that situation.  Will arrest warrants follow?

Thank you, once again, for your commitment to keep San Leandro free of any real crime.  I support your crusade to clean the bookshelves of San Leandro’s citizens.  It’s definitely a much more important endeavor than paying attention to pesky little things like robberies, actual burglaries, domestic violence and, the peskier of them all, corruption and misconduct within your own department.


Margarita Lacabe

This letter was e-mailed to Chief Sandra Spagnoli and copied to Mayor Stephen Cassidy, the other members of the City Council, City Manager Chris Zapata, Assistant City Manager Lianne Marshall and City Attorney Richard Pio Roda.

May 232013
Jim Prola

Jim Prola

Council Split in Two Camps

The last item on last Monday’s agenda of the San Leandro City Council was the selection of the Vice-Mayor.  It had been put off from a previous meeting as the then current Vice Mayor, Michael Gregory, had been absent.    Gregory made a motion to nominate Jim Prola for the position.  Pauline Cutter quickly seconded him and then Mayor Cassidy immediately called for a vote.  He left no room for discussion, counter-motions or public comment.  Of course, other council members could have interrupted to offer their own motions nominating someone else – but they didn’t do so.  The vote went 4-3, with Gregory, Cutter, Cassidy and Prola voting to make Prola Vice-Mayor, and Ursula Reed, Benny Lee and Diana Souza voting against him.

Diana Souza

Diana Souza

The reasons for this pretty unusual vote came clear at the end of the meeting when Diana Souza paid homage to her mentor Joyce Starosciak (who, you will remember, left town because she couldn’t deal with the pain of not having been elected Mayor), to sing her own “why don’t you love me” swan song.   She said she didn’t vote against Prola because he was unqualified – all of them, said Souza, are equally qualified -, but because she wanted to be Vice-Mayor and she’s never gotten the chance.  She blames this on her willingness to stand up for her principles rather than compromise (principles such as “we should spend all our money building an Olympic swimming pool in the Manor”, “people shouldn’t be allowed to raise chickens or bees”, “no marijuana dispensaries in town”, “porn theaters yes, Shakespeare no in the industrial district”, “let the police do as they will”).  I don’t know if I’ve ever seens as clear an example of the Dunning–Kruger effect.

Almost as interesting as Souza’s public whining session, was the fact that it was done without an actual vote against her. Either Lee or Reed could have a motion to nominate Souza as Vice-Mayor – Reed, indeed, made it clear on her comments that she voted against Prola because she wanted Souza to have the position -, but they didn’t.  This begs the question as to why.   The obvious answer is that they knew Souza didn’t have the votes to win – which is the sort of thing that can only happen if you’ve been breaking the Brown Act right and left to find out how your colleagues are voting.

I’m not sure what to make of the fact that  Souza and her cohorts voted against Prola knowing that he had the votes to win.    It solidifies the theory that Souza is not going to run for Mayor against Cassidy, but rather that her appearances around town were part of her campaign for Vice-Mayor.   Ursula Reed, on the other hand, is ostensibly running for Alameda County Superintendent of Schools and you would think she would know better than publicly spiting Prola.  Prola, after all, has a lot of influence in Democratic and labor circles, and while he’s not personally petty,  Reed’s vote shows a lack of common sense that is unlikely to make her many friends.
The vote, moreover, solidifies the division of the City Council into two camps.  Interestingly, the Reed-Souza-Lee camp is the more solid of the three.  They are driven together as much by conservative social views and loyalty to the police (the police union were huge contributors to the Lee and Reed campaigns, and Souza has other reasons to be grateful to them), as by their unwillingness to move to city forward.  The other four Council members form an uneasy alliance, as their political views run the gamut and they don’t necessarily share the same vision for the City.  On the other hand, they do seem to take their job more seriously.  It will be interesting to see if this split stays in future votes such as that on the marijuana dispensary.

Apr 042013

They say that the early bird gets the worm, and this year politicians are taking that to heart.  Candidates started announcing they would run for the 2014 elections even before the 2012 votes were counted, and every day more candidates join the fray.  So far this is how the field looks.

In San Leandro:

– Councilmember Diana Souza, who is getting termed out,  is rumored to be ready to challenge Mayor Stephen Cassidy for Mayor.  This one is hard to believe, but I’ve heard the rumor from the same person who correctly predicted that Hermy Almonte would challenge Jim Prola, another unlikely and predictably unsuccessful race.

Pauline Cutter is likely to run for re-election for City Council District 5.  Board of Zoning Adjustments member Lee Thomas will run for the District 3 Souza is vacating while my husband, Mike Katz-Lacabe, has pulled papers to run in District 1 (Michael Gregory terms out).  Mike has not yet announced.

Tony Guzman, who runs the Ford Leadership in San Leandro and has been getting progressively into politics, is flirting with the idea of moving to San Leandro and running for City Council (he currently lives in Hayward).  He definitely should move, but he may be better off joining a commission first to learn a bit about how this city works.

Meanwhile, Planning Commissioner Ed Hernandez seems ready to apply to be appointed to the District 2 seat if Ursula Reed vacates it.

Lance James seems likely to run for re-election for the School Board (representing the north area). Ron Carey, who represents the Manor, will not be seeking a second term. Carey was appointed to his seat after nobody run in the 2010 election. Currently, five of the seven school board members were appointed or ran unopposed.

In Alameda County:

– San Leandro Councilmember Ursula Reed is running for County Superintendent of Schools.
Ellen Corbett is challenging incumbent Eric Swallwell for Congressional District 15 (read more about this race).
Ro Khanna is challenging incumbent Mike Honda for Congressional District 17 (read more about this race).
– Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti is running for Assembly District 16 (Joan Buchanan terms out).
– Fremont Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski is running for Senate District 10.


– State Treasurer Bill Lockyer and State Controller John Chiang were looking at exchanging jobs, as each gets termed out of their current ones. Chiang is set to run for Treasurer but, still recovering from the Nadia scandal, Lockyer is being coy as to whether he’s running for Controller (but he’s preparing to).  Meanwhile, Board of Equalization member and rising Democratic party star Betty Yee is giving it her all in the race for Controller. This one will be fun to watch.

Do you know of other candidates or other races?Comment below or e-mail me!