By Steven Tavares
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HAYWARD – City leaders in Hayward struck quickly Tuesday night at a duo of Democratic-backed bills in the Legislature to curtail redevelopment agencies in the state.

With a budget deadline looming in Sacramento, Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney again criticized fellow Democrats, including the city’s own legislative representatives for not looking out for the welfare of local governments.

Democrats unveiled two bills effectively shuttering redevelopment agencies similar to Gov. Jerry Brown’s controversial plan last February. The introduction of SB 14x and SB 15x particularly rankled Sweeney for its stealth components. “They kept this bill secret and held the bill number until this afternoon,” an annoyed Sweeney said Tuesday night. “You can’t do that in the City of Hayward, but I guess you can in the Legislature.”

City Manager Fran David, who has also lead a charge on numerous fronts against Sacramento’s reliance on fixing legislative problems on the back of local cities, called one potential piece of legislation a “blackmail bill.” The reference follows a quick-read of SB 15x calling for the state to balance the budget using $1.7 billion in redevelopment funds under the threat of elimination.

“It’s outrageous and it needs to stop,” Sweeney said of Sacramento’s latest usurp of Hayward’s ability to provide services. “We need to stop this charade.”

Hayward Mayor
Michael Sweeney
Sweeney said he placed phone calls to Senate Majority Ellen Corbett and Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi to register opposition against the bills, but did not receive a call back by the beginning of Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Councilwoman Barbara Halliday said she also left a message with the area’s representatives. Corbett and Hayashi both support the Democratic budget plans while attracting, at times, harsh criticism from Sweeney, who also represented Hayward in the Legislature.

It is likely Democrats will present a balanced budget Wednesday without redevelopment, but some around the state believe a lawsuit led by the League of California Cities will ultimately prevail. “I’m tired of being held hostage by the state,” said Councilman Olden Henson. “I’m the only one choosing to ignore RDA because I’m confident we will prevail.”

Between $5-6 million-a-year have been taken from Hayward by the state since 1992, said Sweeney, who urged a large group of supporters urging funding for the city’s art scene to also speak out to their leaders in Sacramento.

In recent months, Hayward has zeroed in on numerous legislative bills attempting to limit the power of local leaders, including a resolution to maintain the power to close or outsource operations of a library even though they say they have no intention of doing so anytime soon.