Lockyer Tries To Get Trail Naming With A Little Help From His Friends

By Steven Tavares

Bill Lockyer is a powerful man. Most likely the most influential politician San Leandro has ever produced, but when does the good deeds of public service and accolades of a storied career in Sacramento bleed into overheated egotism and vision of grandeur?

It is well-known, California’s treasurer told friends and political allies last year he would do everything possible to get his wife, Nadia Lockyer, elected to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Through funding her campaign with a whopping $2 million in donations from his own campaign for re-election, she won 66 percent of the vote last November. Lockyer used his vast financial connections to efficient use in that race, but he was reminded last week his political power and hubris can only go so far.

The proposal to name the BayTrail after Lockyer struck many as overstepping the limits of their ability to feed into the treasurer’s gravy train. When completed, the BayTrail will encircle the Bay Area with over 300 miles in bike and walking trails. The concept and much of the heavy lifting was done by Lockyer during his time in the Legislature. The nature trail is surely one of the most popular and visionary pieces of legislation emanating from Sacramento, arguably, in the past 25 years. San Leandro honored its native son last year by naming its piece of the BayTrail after Lockyer, but a peculiar ally last month brought the proposal forward to name the entire trail after Lockyer.

Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty told the San Francisco Chronicle he was not approached by Lockyer or anyone affiliated with the push to renew a six-year-old effort to name the trail after Lockyer. “I swear on my grave on that,” he said. Lockyer though, thinks that if anybody deserves the honor, it is him. Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi agreed and offered a resolution in favor of the name change. Hayashi, of course, has ties to Lockyer. At the opening of Nadia Lockyer’s campaign headquarters in Hayward, Hayashi told supporters she recognized the political skills of the eventual county supervisor and had “discovered” her. But, there may be more to the political backrubbing going down with the renaming of the BayTrail.

It is curious, some county observers contend, that the point man on the proposal is Haggerty. The hard-nosed and gruff supervisor did not make the Lockyers happy when he pushed a county ordinance on election day last November to limit the large transfers of campaign wealth featured in Nadia Lockyer’s campaign against former state Sen. Liz Figueroa. Many viewed the act as a political message protesting the almost exclusive use of big money to win a seat on the Board of Supervisors. After the proposed ordinance wallowed on two occasions for its second and final reading before becoming law, sources say Haggerty was summoned last November to the Lockyer home in the Hayward Hills to chat.

Haggerty’s campaign finance reform ordinance limiting transfers from other campaign funds to $20,000 still passed, but his staff says the impetus for the bill was not in response to Lockyer’s record-breaking haul from her husband’s campaign coffers, but to quell the enthusiasm of several well-known and soon-to-be-termed out legislator who had amassed a large treasury and who could pose significant challenges to the incumbents on the board. Two of those lawmakers would be Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett and former assemblyman Alberto Torrico. Many assert Haggerty’s enthusiasm for renaming the trail after Lockyer may amount to a big mea culpa by the Pleasanton-based supervisor.

Although the City of Richmond recently registered disapproval of the renaming along with a local editorial raising the question of whether a public resource should be named after a living person. It used the example of former Oakland mayor Elihu Harris and his political downfall as a reason for wait for a person legacy to solidify in positive narrative before making such a move. But, the Big Lock usually gets what the Bill Lock wants and we will have to wait and see whether his acolytes can eventually deliver.