To the dismay of San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos, two former police chiefs hosted a fundraiser Tuesday for his opponent Vice Mayor Joyce Starosciak. (For full disclosure, the owner of the local business hosting the event is a relative.) The loss of support from Bob Maginnis and Joe Kitchen reveals a chink in the mayor’s armor. Former police department heads should have been a gimme for Santos and a coup for Starosciak, but the chief who replaced Kitchens and preceded the current boss, Ian Willis, is about as radioactive as they come. The disgraced Dale Attarian is the endorsement nobody wants and few know why. Through deft public relations and a totally silent local media, Attarian left the department last year under the cloud of a tumultuous sexual harassment scandal that has already cost the city over $400,000 and likely more when the case’s main complaints are settled with the last of seven female police officers. The complaints allege the department under Attarian fostered an anti-female bias and failed to promote any women to the rank of sergeant. Court documents allege, among other things, Attarian said women were not cut out to be police officers and looked the other way as other male officers ostracized the seven women within an atmosphere of sexual innuendo and pornographic materials in plain view. The allegations are so outrageous that it begs the question why a female candidate for mayor would even welcome the endorsement of law enforcement.
SILENCE OF THE CANDIDATES The scene was a bit uncomfortable last month after the San Leandro city council chambers emptied with only Santos, Starosciak and Councilman Jim Prola chatting with a few community members at the upraised dais. Santos had been perturbed by comments made by Starosciak during the meeting when she briefly noted her support of the police and fire departments. The comments were made without any context to previous agenda item, but clearly alluded to controversial budget cuts on the table regarding both public safety institutions. “Doesn’t she know people talk? People tell me everything she says around town,” the mayor clearly said as to allow Starosciak to hear him. The passive aggressive tone of the scene is indicative of the slow brewing rivalry between the two city leaders. They reportedly do not speak much and Santos has made no secret he was peeved when Starosciak announced her candidacy saying it would interfere with city business and harmony within the council. The recent circus surrounding RCV has its roots in the simmering turf war. Starosciak supporter Councilwoman Diana Souza inexplicably halted the passage of the RCV ordinance against the wishes of the mayor and a past majority of the council. The next major proxy battle on the council between Santos and Starosciak may take place next month when a new vice mayor could be appointed.
FORGET RCV, LET ANYONE RUN One of the main talking points in favor of RCV is that it lowers the need for candidates to run for office without spending an arm and a leg. RCV ensures only one election rather than the possibility of two with the runoff system, but there’s another way–allow voters to elect councilmembers city-wide without the need of living within the district. Within, the past month, six potential candidates for the council, have been thwarted in running this year because they later learned they do not reside in either Souza’s District 3 or Councilman Michael Gregory’s District 1. Souza does not have a challenger, while David Anderson recently announced he was running against Gregory. San Leandro currently elects councilmembers by district but with the votes of the entire city. If the entire city votes, why not open each district to challengers from throughout the city?
WON’T BACK DOWN Hayward Councilwoman Anna May is many things. She is one of the few conservative-leaning public servants in the area and one of the more refreshingly assertive councilmembers in the either Hayward or San Leandro. May is leaving the council chambers in June to pursue a seat on the city’s school board, which may account for her unwavering stand last week against funding non-profit organizations who reside outside of Hayward. The council was presented with a preliminary list of 25 organizations vying for $400,000 in community development block grants (CDBG). Six of the 25 non-profits did not reside in Hayward, nor did they maintain a delivery system in the city, which irked May. “I cannot support exporting dollars outside the city limits,” said May, who said she acquiesced towards softening her stance last year, but would not budge this time around maintaining operations outside of the city do not pay taxes and fees to the city. CDBG dollars come from the city’s general fund. “The question is whether they are helping people in Hayward,” Councilman Bill Quirk shot back before asking May, “Maybe we can change your mind?” to which May smiled wryly and defiantly shook her head no.
HAVING NO MONEY IS LIKE…BEING POOR Plucking an apt analogy out of thin air is quite difficult, but there was no excuse for San Leandro Councilman Bill Stephens being flummoxed Monday night while searching for one regarding these difficult economic times. When presented with the ineviable budget choices facing the city and potential cash flow problems in the near future, Stephens, with a background in finance, understood the fiduciary aspect of the city’s dilemma. “You have to make payroll,” said Stephens. “You have to pay your bills.” He then paused and said, “I’m trying to think of an analogy of where you’re living day-to-day, in this case, you’re livng month-to-month.” Uhhh….look at the lady at the bus stop across the street on East 14th. How about an analogy relating to the millions of Americans out-of-work, poor and sick struggling everyday to keep it all together. There’s nothing like watching a conservative blindly miss the wide-spread plight of others.-S.T.
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