Santos Calls Cassidy Supporters At Meeting ‘Brown Shirts’

By Steven Tavares

Apparently hoping to collect on the spoils of last month’s mayoral victory, a small group of mayor-elect Stephen Cassidy’s supporters asked the San Leandro City Council Monday night to postpone finalizing labor contracts with city employee unions until next year.

The group of Cassidy insiders, including San Leandro School Trustee Mike Katz and his wife, Margarita Katz, Tim Holmes and Mia Ousley, urged the council during closed session to allow for negotiations to bleed into the new mayor’s term. The council discussed negotiations with two city employee unions, the San Leandro City Employees’ Association/International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers and the San Leandro Management Organization. It is believed both contracts will be signed along with a deal with the San Leandro Police Officer Association before the end of Santos’ term next week.

Cassidy had vigorously campaigned against the city’s employee unions saying more of their earnings should be paid towards their own pension plans. Any question whether Cassidy’s assault on public employee unions was campaign rhetoric or a resolute call for changing how the city deals with rising costs may have disappeared with Monday’s call by his inner circle. Mayor Tony Santos equated the group’s display to intimidation tactics used by “Brown Shirts” in Nazi Germany.

“There isn’t any question in my mind that the group intended on intimidating us into not taking action,” said Santos. “Cassidy campaigned against our employees. (It) appears the group used a little ‘brown shirt’ tactics. I believe this is what San Leandrans face in the future.”

Santos also referred to Holmes, who was Cassidy’s campaign manager, as the group’s “field marshall.” Four members of the group spoke before the council, including an unidentified person. According to Santos, when the wife of Mike Katz addressed them, she called out her husband to speak, but he declined and left the room.

During the campaign, Santos had supported the city’s unions, saying they had already made significant concessions to help the city battle declining revenues and rising costs. A year ago, its largest public employee unions agreed to a one-year contract foregoing a second straight year without pay raises while paying more towards health care insurance. Fifteen furloughs days throughout the year also amounted to a pay cut of nearly five percent. During the same time, the city also suffered through a $3 million shortfall that has nearly drained its entire reserve fund.