Endorsement Standstill in San Leandro

By Steven Tavares

The two main governing bodies in San Leandro can’t find a way to support each others ballot measures. After the San Leandro Board of Trustees tabled formally endorsing the city’s sales tax measure two weeks ago, the City Council, with seemingly ancillary discussion over its ability to endorse the school district’s sports facilities bond, returned the favor Monday night.

Despite comments from both sides offering personal support for each others measures, election politics and a cool relationship between the groups has denied any endorsement. All eyes now turn to the school board tonight as they again look at Measure Z.

Councilman Jim Prola said he believes the school board is willing to work with the council, although he said earlier in the meeting, former school trustee and mayoral candidate Stephen Cassidy had pulled sway with supporters on the school board to block support of the city’s initiative. Prola’s comments were later stricken from the record by City Attorney Jayne Williams. When asked if the school board will back Measure M at their meeting tonight after the city council failed to endorse their measure, Mayor Tony Santos said “Why should they?”

Numerous sources tell The Citizen Prola has sought out the school board’s support through a quid pro quo, but those talks may have been squashed by Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak who turned the agenda items regarding support of Measure M and opposition to Proposition 23 into a discussion of the council’s guidelines against making such endorsements.

Regarding Prop. 23 and latter Measure M, Starosciak said she understood there was policy against making such resolutions in support or opposition to matters outside of the council’s jurisdiction going back to 2004. City Manager Stephen Hollister says the policy was a guideline created in 2004, but never incorporated into the council’s handbook. Starosciak says she personally supports both items, but recommended the question be sent to the rules committee for clarification. The resolution in opposition of Prop. 23, the ballot measure hoping to overturn AB32, the state’s landmark environmental legislation, passed 5-0 with Councilmembers Bill Stephens and Diana Souza abstaining, but official support for Measure M failed 4-3 with Starosicak and Councilwoman Ursula Reed joining Stephen and Souza to block the council’s support. Both items will head to the rules committee as early as next week.

“I’m not going to be bound by a guideline by a council in 2004,” said Prola, who was the prime backer of the resolution against Prop. 23. “I won’t hide behind a guideline.” Prola, who was unusually animated said, “We have the obligation to take a position to protect our residents.” Mayor Tony Santos agreed and said the issue pertains to the city which he says has a high rate of asthmatics and has issued legislation within its borders to combat greenhouse gas emissions. Others disagreed with the council weighing-in on matter they says is outside of their purview. Stephens called it a “slippery slope” leading possibly to discussion of every issue imaginable. “Everything affects San Leandro,” said Stephens. “The war in Afghanistan effects San Leandro. We should consider were we go with this.”

UPDATE: A correction was made to the council vote for Prop. 23. Members Stephens and Souza did not vote against, but abstained.