Mayor Rips Former School Board Member

While San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is tweeting he has balanced the city budget, San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos hopes to do the same tonight as the city council is slated to approve a new budget for the next year.

The cities budget in some ways is similar to that of many of its citizens. A little belt-tightening here and there and for hope for the best to survive each month. Like San Leandro, many are just an unforeseen catastrophe away from major turmoil. Rising as one of the most vociferous voices of fiscal oversight is former school board trustee Stephen Cassidy, who has hounded the mayor in recent weeks speaking in the city council chambers, writing emails and penning a measured critique of San Leandro’s budgetary future. He wrote of the mayor’s leadership, “He fears honest conversation may offend some groups. Mayor Santos has placed his perceived political self-interest ahead of the best interest of San Leandrans.”

During an interview last Wednesday, the normally laid back Santos, who is known to be unusually accessible, urged for a sense of comity in public discourse, albeit with a sharp jab of his own for Cassidy.

People can vent, but my only bottom line is show respect. I’ll respect you and you respect me. You hear it even from Steve Cassidy–who should know better. Here’s a guy who was on the school board for four years and they had a deficit like we’ve had a deficit. In fact, he’s no longer writing to me because I wrote him a memo saying, ‘you couldn’t even balance your school budget and you’re coming over here and telling us how to balance our budget?’ You know they get mad at you. I’m going to get you. But they have a right to vent but they should respect me and I’ll respect you. I think respect might be something missing in all of this.

Categories: budget, school board, Tony Santos

1 reply

  1. Unfortunately for San Leandro, Mayor Santos sends insulting and inaccurate email messages to constituents. I am just of three persons that I know to have received such messages. After I spoke at a City Council meeting on the need for more accurate budget projections and action to avoid future increases in city expenditures, the Mayor sent me the following email message:

    From: “”
    To: Stephen Cassidy
    Sent: Friday, May 22, 2009 11:40:05 AM
    Subject: budget

    Steve, in all deference, I believe your opinion on our City budget is disingenuous. You could not even balance your School Budget and now you’re going to tell us how to balance our budget. I look forward to the discussions to follow on the subject. By the way, when you were a School board member, you kept begging us to pay for school construction and other items to assist the district. At our level you won’t have these opportunities. By the way, somewhat because of you, you helped create an imbalance in our RDA funds. We committed to contribute $2.3 million dollars toward the gym; it’s a good thing we rejected your idea to contribute toward a Performing Arts building; hell we would really been broke then.

    Thanks for bankrupting the school district, but please don’t help us with our budget; you just don’t get it.



    Here was my response:

    From: Stephen Cassidy
    Sent: Friday, May 22, 2009
    To: Santos, Tony
    Cc: Gregory, Michael
    Subject: Re: budget


    I've come to learn that every time you start a sentence with the phrase “in all deference,” that is the beginning of a baseless criticism on your part. I assume your fellow council members learned of this long ago. It is demeaning to the office you hold to send unsolicited, insulting messages to constituents.

    Given that Sacramento controls 90% of the school district's budget and the federal government the remaining 10%, you are attributing to me power over the school district budget that no school board member possesses. Moreover, during my term on the board, each year the district produced a balanced budget that passed the rigorous review and certification process by the Alameda County Office of Education.

    When faced with budget cutbacks from Sacramento, the school board made the hard decisions necessary to balance the budget. We preserved our emergency reserve, did not engage in deficit spending, and never adopted a budget based on false and unrealistic revenue assumptions.

    Finally, as it became clear in early 2008 that substantial cuts were necessary, I gave up my monthly stipend and returned the money to the district. You can not ask others to sacrifice when you refuse to do so yourself.

    All the best,



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