Victor Aguilar

Oct 092018
 

San Leandro, like many cities in the Bay Area, is in crisis.  About half of our community members are renters and skyrocketing rents are pushing them out of their homes, either displacing them out of the Bay Area or putting them on the streets.   This lack of community stability is affecting neighborhoods and schools, as the challenges of facing an ever-changing student population are significant.   Yet the City Council has done nothing to address this situation.   This is not surprising because the Rental Owners Association and landlords have poured money into the incumbents’ campaigns.

Lack of ethics and integrity is, indeed, a generalized problem in San Leandro city government.  The former City Manager, fearing that accusations of sexual harassment by the head of a local nonprofit would become public, sent out a rambling and utterly unprofessional letter to the press, in which he detailed how he’d have business meetings with his accuser in the front seat of her car and play ping-pong with a local lobbyist.  In the letter, he also discussed  the contents of private conversations with Council members.  Rather than fire him on the spot for unprofessional behavior, the Council put him on paid leave for months while he looked for a new job and and gave him  a $350K parting gift.

What San Leandro needs is progressive and ethical leadership, thus our recommendations below.  Note that San Leandro has ranked choice voting (RCV) for its Mayor and City Council races.

Jeromey Shafer

Mayor: #1 Jeromey Shafer, #2 Dan Dillman

Incumbent Pauline Cutter has been a disaster as Mayor of San Leandro.  She seems to have approached her job as a money-making scheme.  Early in her term, her daughter was hired by the City (with the approval of the City Manager) for a highly-paid position in the Parks and Recreation department – despite nepotism being explicitly forbidden by the Charter of the City of San Leandro.   Cutter would later defend the City Manager against sex harassment accusations, resist efforts to ask for his resignation after he wrote an unprofessional and incoherent public letter, and later vote to give him a $300K farewell gift on his way out.

Cutter has spent much of her time traveling at tax-payer expense, but she can’t point to any concrete accomplishments from her tenure.  The promise of San Leandro becoming a high tech center based on our fiberloop never materialized, and instead our industrial area is filled with warehouses that pay low wages.  Moreover, Cutter has supported police militarization and despite her promise that the counter-attack armored vehicle she voted to buy for the police would not be used on demonstrations, it’s been deployed twice for such purposes.  Cutter is a supporter of mass surveillance, including sharing this data with ICE.

Her opponent City Council member Benny Lee has basically the same record and positions.  He demonstrated his lack of ethics by taking large campaign contributions from a garbage company that was bidding  for a contract with the City of Oakland, and lobbied the neighboring City to award that contract to his contributor.  The competitor was based on San Leandro, so his move could have cost San Leandro $2 million.  Lee’s major “contribution” to San Leandro has been to propose honoring the genocidal Chinese government by flying its flag over City Council.  As Tibetans burn themselves to bring attention to their plight and a million Ughyurs are imprisoned in China, Lee’s loyalty seems to be foremost with the Chinese government.

Fortunately, San Leandro has another choice: Jeromey Shafer.  The co-founder of San Leandro for Bernie and leader of Our Revoution San Leandro, Shafer is intelligent, hard working, thoughtful and  unapologetically progressive.  He is committed to human rights and social justice.  If elected, he will champion rent-control in San Leandro and will take an innovative approach to solving our other social ills.  He will stop the militarization of our police forces and actually make the police department accountable to the city, not the other way around as it seems to be now.  He is running a clean money campaign, rejecting all funds from corporations and developers and limiting contributions to $99.   Shafer will also restore transparency and accountability and a sense of ethics to the office.  Really, San Leandro can do no better than to support him.

Dan Dillman is our second choice because, whatever his faults, he cares about San Leandro.

Eva Arce

Eva Arce

District 1: #1 Eva Arce, #2 Ken Pon

Incumbent Deborah Cox is another white-moderate who supports police militarization and mass surveillance and opposes rent-control. She drew controversy for not returning the financial contribution of a politician who used the “N” word in a public meeting.

Eva Arce, a newcomer to  politics, is a strong progressive who has seen her community fall apart by the Council’s regressive politics and wants to restore it.  She is a big supporter of rent control, police accountability and fixing potholes.  She is running a clean money campaign, rejecting all funds from corporations and developers and limiting contributions to $99.    She is an intelligent woman, who does her homework and will tackle issues with a fresh, yet progressive perspective.  She is just what we need in San Leandro.

Ken Pon is also a moderate, but to the left of Cox.  He opposes the militarization of police and favored marijuana dispensaries when Cox was ranting against them at City Council meetings.

 

Victor Aguilar

District 3: Victor Aguilar

School Board member Victor Aguilar was a progressive back when people didn’t want to admit to being progressive (his opponent, incumbent Lee Thomas, has never claimed himself as one).  He supports rent control, police accountability, clean money (he is not taking any corporate or developer money), and free speech.  As a commissioner, he refused to agree to the City Council’s demand that he forgo his first amendment rights and agree to no disparage the City Manager.

Incumbent Lee Thomas takes money from landlords and opposes rent controls while supporting police militarization.

 

District 5: Maxine Oliver-Benson (with reservations)

Both candidates are problematic.  Incumbent Corina Lopez supports police militarization and has done painfully little to bring accountability to the police and remained a supporter of the City Manager even after he showed himself to lack professionalism, but at least she may vote in favor of rent control if someone else brings it up to the table. She also was the impetus behind the sanctuary city declaration, but would not go a step further and make it an ordinance with some teeth – this allowed the Police Department to continue sharing data with the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, which in turn shared it with ICE.  Moreover, Lopez can be difficult to work with, she easily gets offended and needs to have her ego massaged lest she retaliate over perceived slights.

Her opponent, Maxine Oliver-Benson, is an African American woman who has spent her life in East Oakland as an activist.  She is corporate free and has many strong progressive values – she favors rent control and police accountability, for example, and is rejecting all money from corporations, developers and other special interests (unlike Lopez).  However, she supports increasing mass surveillance in San Leandro – which Lopez says she does not.

Find more progressive voter recommendations in Progressive California.

Nov 022014
 

As a growing number of California votes, I get an absentee ballot but I wait until election day to fill it out and drop it at the polls. That way I can be sure I have as much information as possible before I cast my ballot.  This also gives me time to discuss my choices with others, and do some more deeper thinking.  Inevitably, this leads to changing my mind in a few races.  That’s the case with the San Leandro City Council District 3 race.  I am now recommending the following voter order:

First Choice: Allen Schoenfeld
Second Choice: Victor Aguilar
Third Choice: Lee Thomas

Allen Schoenfeld

Allen Schoenfeld

FIRST CHOICE: ALLEN SCHOENFELD

Allen Schoenfeld cannot win this race if only because he did not submit a ballot statement.

Truth be told, Schoenfeld probably shouldn’t win either.  He has no experience in City government, has only recently started attending City meetings, and is unfamiliar both with the issues and the system.  Without that basis of knowledge, he would be able to do little more than rubber stamp what is put in front of him.  He might surprise me, but I doubt he would make a particularly good City Council member.

Allen, however, is a good man who clearly cares for his community and for human beings.  He also has maintained a clear anti-police militarization stance since he joined the raise.  His views don’t seem to be as politically driven as community driven, “what’s the point of spending money on things we don’t need and don’t help us?,” seems to be his attitude.  A vote for him, in my view, is a protest vote against police militarization. He will be eliminated after the first round, so anyone trying to make that point should choose him first.

More on Allen Schoenfeld: Candidate QuestionnaireSmart Voter, SL Times profile

Victor Aguilar

Victor Aguilar

SECOND CHOICE: VICTOR AGUILAR

The race for District 3 is really between Victor Aguilar and Lee Thomas.  Thomas’ success is almost guaranteed. He has the better name, the better ballot designation and the better candidate statement. Still, I believe that we should vote for the best candidate, not the most popular one.

I originally recommended voting for Lee Thomas as a first choice because Thomas is the most knowledgeable and competent candidate on this race (see below for more on this).  Victor Aguilar has not been following what has been happening at City Hall and he seems to have very little understanding of the issues that are facing this city.  For example, he seemed to be unaware of the long battle to save San Leandro Hospital.

Moreover, at the time I wrote my original recommendation, I was unsure about what his political views were.  He had not yet responded to the candidate questionnaire I sent out, and none of his answers at the candidate fora showed a clear liberal bent.  This has changed.  He has completed the questionnaire, did not back away from the more difficult questions, and he has made it clear he supports civil liberties and the right to privacy, and opposes the militarization of the police department and the diversion of classroom funds to pay for police officers.

My concerns about Aguilar’s inexperience persist.  However, practically speaking, it’s unlikely he would get elected unless there is a significant swing to the left by the electorate. In that case, it’s likely that at least one the other liberal candidates – Mike Katz-Lacabe, Mia Ousley and Dan Dillman – would be elected, so that the pressures on Aguilar as the sole liberal member wouldn’t be so overwhelming.

Ultimately, I have said publicly that if you oppose police militarization, you need to vote for those candidates who do as well.  I must follow my own advice and choose Aguilar before Thomas. If we are not willing to take a chance to get what we really want – a freer and more just society -, then we will never get it.

More on Victor Aguilar: candidate questionnairecandidate statement, Smart Voter, Facebook page, SL Times profile

Lee Thomas

Lee Thomas

THIRD CHOICE: LEE THOMAS

Lee Thomas is a great guy. He works as a director of youth programs at the YMCA, and he clearly cares about children.  He has been involved in San Leandro’s civic life for a long time, including a stint in the Human Services Commission and later in the Board of Zoning Adjustments.  I have seen Lee in action at BZA meetings and he asks intelligent questions which show that he’s done the background reading and has thought about the issues before him.   I’ve met with him to discuss his race and I found him to be amenable to new ideas, looking forward to collaboration, and endowed with strong problem-solving skills.  Lee was the first candidate to return the San Leandro Talk/Nextdoor questionnaire, though he didn’t complete it.   He regularly attends City Council meetings – at least, I’ve seen him at them many times – and he got the endorsement of the Oakland Tribune.

In some ways his views are very progressive, he rejects warrantless searches of private property (which, unfortunately, the City Hall as a body approved of) and he believes the City needs to do a much better job of bringing after-school activities.

However, he has much more conservative views on other issues.  He opposes medical marijuana dispensaries but he is not opposed to the school district diverting money from classrooms to police and he has not taken firm positions against either the use of mass surveillance in San Leandro or the acquisition of the armored personnel carrier.  He serves in the the Police Chief’s Advisory Board, where he has not challenged the Police Chief on her overreaching policies, and has been endorsed by the Police Union.

I think he will do a good job in San Leandro, but if no other liberal candidates are elected – and that’s a strong possibility – I don’t think he’ll be rocking the boat.

More on Lee Thomas: candidate questionnaire, candidate statement, Smart Voter, website, Facebook, APAC questionnaire, SL Times profile: , tweeter: @LeeThomas94578

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.

 

Oct 202014
 

candidateforumThe Hayward Demos held a candidate forum for San Leandro Mayoral and City Council candidates on Thursday, Oct. 17th.  All candidates, except for Leah Hall, were present. They answered questions from the audience.  The following are tweets from the forum sent by Mike Katz-Lacabe.  Because Mike is a candidate for District 1, he was unable to tweet during that part of the forum.

 

DISTRICT 3

San Leandro Dist. 3 candidates Victor Aguilar & Allen Schoenfeld against armored assault vehicle. Lee Thomas wants more info and justification.
Lee Thomas disagreed with warrant-less searches of houses includes in chickens/bees ordinance.
Aguilar & Schoenfeld against red light cameras approved by City Council.
All San Leandro Dist 3 candidates support keeping San Leandro Hospital open – Schoenfeld says to clap for Mia Ousley: helped keep it open.
None of the San Leandro Dist. 3 candidates mentioned the $3 million the City has allocated to help keep San Leandro Hospital open.
Lack of questions for San Leandro Dist 3 candidates leads to an early wrap-up.
Thomas says he has the experience to be on City Council. Schoenfeld makes the case for common sense.

DISTRICT 5

Leah Hall only San Leandro Dist. 5 candidate not present at candidate forum.
Mia Ousley opposes San Leandro acquiring armored assault vehicle. Corina Lopez supports/compares to safety vest.
Corina Lopez opposes rent control. Mia Ousley says no need now, but gentrification may necessitate a future review.
San Leandro Dist 5 candidate supports the development at the Marina. Says environment must be protected. Opposes dredging.
San Leandro Dist 5 candidates supports Adventure Playground and small boats at Marina.
San Leandro Dist 5 candidate Lopez says oversight committee has say in Measure HH funds. Mia Ousley: City Council can spend how it wants
San Leandro Dist 5 candidate Lopez: opposed raising Chinese flag at City Hall. Mia Ousley opposed elimination of full council minutes.

MAYOR

San Leandro mayoral Dan Dillman: You have 2 choices: two City Council members with 12 years of experience between them or an outsider.
Dillman is first to mention ebola at tonight’s candidate forum. Says we need to stop the fear.
San Leandro mayoral candidate Diana Souza: avoids answering question on raising Chinese flag. Supports armored assault vehicle for SLPD
San Leandro mayoral candidate Pauline Cutter: opposed raising Chinese flag; sounds supportive of armored assault vehicle for SLPD
San Leandro mayoral candidates on being a full time Mayor: Dillman: Yes; Cutter: Yes; Souza: avoids answering question directly.
Asked whether they supported funding San Leandro Hospital, Cutter said she supported it. Souza avoided answering the question.