Show Me the Real Money

By Steven Tavares

Is there a tangible difference between non-monetary contributions versus cold, hard cash? San Leandro mayoral candidate Stephen Cassidy says no. A press release Tuesday touted financial disclosures filings showing a considerable money advantage over the incumbent Mayor Tony Santos and Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak.

“Demonstrating strong momentum as the campaign enters its last 100 days, campaign manager Tim Holmes, announced today the Cassidy for Mayor campaign has received over $30,000 in contributions for 2010, exceeding opponents Santos and Starociak by over $7,000 and $20,000 respectively,” said Cassidy’s web site.

But is it a true statement?

If you breakdown Cassidy’s reported $30,005 in total contributions, just over one-third come from individual donors. In fact, Cassidy’s own campaign manager is his largest contributor. Holmes and his wife gave $1,250 to the Cassidy campaign this year. In addition, $7,560 in loans Cassidy gave his campaign and not mentioned in the release.

The bulk of Cassidy’s contributions came from non-monetary contributions. Supporters furnished web designing, graphic art work and data analysis worth $11,740. Non-monetary contributions are quite fungible and usually not reported in terms of fundraising strength, a fact even Cassidy acolyte and San Leandro School Board President Mike Katz noted on his blog.


TEA PARTYING WITH BROWN? Santos takes great glee in portraying Cassidy as a conservative, whether it is true or not. Santos has mockingly referred to Cassidy as the “new Lou Filipovich”–the rickety San Leandro conservative and now mayoral candidate. After Cassidy came out in favor of pension reform for city employees, Santos asked, “When did Cassidy join the Tea Party?”

The assertion may have taking a bit of a toll on Cassidy, but his position was buoyed recently when Jerry Brown told the Los Angeles Times, he too, favored reigning in state pensions. Very few would put the Democratic nominee for governor and theTea Party in the same sentence. “I’m not going to blame public servants for problems that have been created by Wall Street hedge funds and mortgage sellers,” said Brown, “but at the same time, as I did as governor, I know when it’s time to tighten our belt,”

The employee pension issue and the city’s quarter-cent sales tax measure are shaping up as the likely point of difference between Santos and Starosciak against Cassidy.


GOOD COP/BAD COP It is not a good idea to stoke controversy among the electorate when you are the incumbent and the election is less than three months away. When Santos and City Manager Stephen Hollister met with representatives from the school board there was a chance the city would take a hard line against funding crossing guards for the upcoming school year. Hollister had said in council chambers and in an interview with The Citizen the city simply could not fund even half of the programs amid steep cuts in staff and services.

Santos and Hollister, though, may have been playing good cop/bad cap that day. Santos said he pulled Hollister aside before the meeting last Thursday and discussed again splitting the $100,000 cost of crossing guards with the school district. “We can’t go in there and say we’re not funding this,” said Santos. During the meeting Hollister again listed the cuts to the city budget and dispelled rumors the absence of guards would put the city in legal risk. When it was Santos’ turn to speak, he immediately said the city would offer to split the costs. The potential deal quickly took the air out of potential opposition, including mayoral candidate Sara Mestas, who led the fight to reinstate the program last year and was in attendance at the meeting. With that, the ball is back in the school district’s court. The first day of school in San Leandro is Aug. 25.


THE BREAK-UP San Leandro School Trustee Pauline Cutter wants to know what’s eating Tony Santos. Cutter is running to replace outgoing councilmember Bill Stephens for the District 5 seat against Corina Lopez and Ted Kai. During the same city/school board liaison meeting last Thursday, Santos and Cutter sniped at each other when the mayor asserted the school board could have received a new sports complex without tax dollars. Santos detailed past discussions of building a field on the grounds of San Lorenzo High School. Cutter noted the board had looked at the proposal but quibbled over funding a project in another municipality. When she noted Alameda County oversees unincorporated San Lorenzo, Santos quickly shot back, “I know it’s Alameda County.” Cutter took slight offense to the retort. Afterwards, Cutter said it was the second such outburst in recent weeks made by Santos towards her. “I don’t know what’s going on with Tony,” she said. “I’m going to have to find out what’s wrong.” While both have ties to labor unions, Cutter may be worried about receiving the mayor’s endorsement for council this November. The worry being Lopez’s connection to consultants associated to Santos may draw his support. “I’m staying neutral on that race,” said Santos.