Two Members of San Leandro City Council Say They’re Not Being Heard

By Steven Tavares
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San Leandro Councilwoman Pauline Cutter has seemed like a fish out of water since winning a seat on the council last November despite spending the last decade on the city’s school board. On numerous occasions she has voiced confusion during certain points of discussion while claiming she felt her knowledge of the subject was deficient or maintaining unfamiliarity with some sections of issues about to be voted upon.

San Leandro Mayor
Stephen Cassidy

Some have chalked it up to inexperience that comes with being a rookie on the city council. Council members say it takes at least a year to get into the swing of things, but Cutter is not neophyte to local government. So what gives? Where does this feeling of being kept in the dark come from?

In the past month, Councilwoman Diana Souza has also begun to voice a similar complaint regarding the perception of certain voices and information being swept under the rug by the new mayor.

During Monday night’s approval of the fiscal budget for next year, Souza asked a question regarding an amendment to the budget referring to the hiring of a city liaison to the Alameda Fire Department with costs defrayed by the participation of neighboring cities. Mayor Stephen Cassidy interrupted and ask her to ask the question at a later time, which lead Souza to this objection:

“The problem I have,” said Souza, “if we don’t talk about it now, as Councilwoman Cutter says, when is the appropriate time then is it already done and we really feel like we don’t have a say and then when we get to the these meetings it’s like, well, our hour-and-a-half is gone, ask your question at the next meeting. When we keep pushing off these important questions to deal with, it’s frustrating.”

The general confusion among some council members over input and the process of decisions at the committee level is growing and points yet again to Cassidy’s constant inability to, as Councilman Michael Gregory is want to say, count to a majority of four votes on the council.

This isn’t the first time Souza has voiced this complaint in council hearings. Last month she uttered nearly the same comment even making allusions to the finance committee’s switch to work around Cassidy’s work schedule to an early morning session starting at 8:15 a.m. and ending promptly 90 minutes later.

Along with the Cassidy’s failure to hire a new city manager through the less transparent ad-hoc committee process, quite a few decisions are being made outside the view of the full city council, if the repeated comments by Cutter and Souza are true.

This is how Cassidy’s uneventful four years on the school board ended with nary an agreement save for fellow trustee Mike Katz and appears to be growing into the common thread running through his first six months on the job at City Hall.