San Leandro Mayor’s Unholy Alliance With Business Interests

ANALYSIS
Nov. 21, 2011 | Oh, what happened to the Stephen Cassidy who horded up all the Scrabble letters for “leadership” and “transparency” during last year’s mayoral campaign?

The truth is, he never existed and if not for the inherently wacky twists and turns of ranked-choice voting, San Leandrans would have never known his rhetoric turned empty the very second he aligned himself with the city’s unseemly underworld—the city’s corrupt police department and equally power-hungry chamber of commerce.

In a span of a weeks, Cassidy has decline to comment on the persistent problem of gender and racism discrimination at the police department. The lack of leadership is appalling but expected when you take into account the vast amount of disrespect he has earned among the city’s valued employees. Cassidy’s silence is odd since it was him who forcefully shined a harsh light on public servants like former chief Ian Willis eating high off the city’s hog.

News that two powerful police officers conspired to ultimately set themselves up for a handsome $225,000 payday at the expense of another’s life and career did nothing to entice Cassidy to speak up. When I saw Cassidy at the San Leandro Farmers’ Market two weeks before my story on Dewayne Stancill was published in the East Bay Express, I merely said, “thank you” to him. To which he sheepishly grinned. The day the story came out, he said the city attorney and police chief’s comment would suffice.

Two Monday’s ago, Cassidy appeared to be pushing the current police chief to declining future excursions to help Oakland PD with Occupy Oakland, but she told him to buzz off. In effect, telling Cassidy the respect of peers in the Bay Area meant more than his. A week later, Spagnoli provided officers to a second raid on Occupy Oakland. In fact, there is no respect for Cassidy anywhere in the city and it is not hyperbole. Not among the chief, not among his colleagues on the council, some of whom consistently huff and puff about his shocking inability to run a simple meeting. He does, though, have the support of one important group and that is the city’s chamber of commerce.

San Leandro lobbyist Gordon Galvan was once a great ally of Mayor Tony Santos. When Santos was upset last fall, Tony Santos the San Leandro resident was of little importance to Galvan, one of the city’s most garish opportunists. In a few short months, Galvan in cahoots with the chamber, masterfully blended Cassidy’s menagerie of oddball liberals into a full-fledged pro-business whacks. Cassidy acolytes moved in and out of the chamber’s payroll, current members of the council had their arms twisted in various degrees of pain and a political action committee is slated to pump campaign dollars to pro-business candidates.

Those who accept the chamber’s tainted cash should beware because the groups reach into City Hall is not for the good of the city, but for monied interests outside of San Leandro. For instance, the Village Marketplace project slated to replace the old Albertson’s on East 14th Street would be more honestly named the “Global Marketplace” since outside corporate interests slated for the project include AT&T, Chipotle, Peet’s and British grocer Fresh & Easy. That group hardly screams local when the downtown area to truly be special needs only a butcher, baker and maybe a candlemaker to prosper.

Those who get in the way have tendency to be ousted without official reason. Former city manager Stephen Hollister was let go last December by Cassidy at the behest of this group. Why? Residents don’t need to the details, they say. Instead, just trust us, folks. It turns out Hollister’s ability to keep the city solvent was one the East Bay’s major feats in a era of austerity and flat revenues. On Nov. 7, the city approved moving $3.5 million to reserves. If Hollister was such a paid public servant, then how do you account for this transfer during a time when every other neighboring city is scrounging for any scrap of extra revenue? Nobody gives Hollister or any other city employee credit for this seemingly monumental turn of events. It’s just one of those inconvenient facts for Cassidy’s outside interest to avoid mentioning.

From dirty cops draining the public treasury to manipulative businessmen, undoubtedly, San Leandro is entering an era of exploitation and graft while the police chief forcefully backs the perpetrators and the mayor turns a blind eye. It’s not the bill of goods you sold, Stephen, and it’s far too late to disentangle yourself now or until another cockamamie round of ranked-choice  voting brings the city another illegitimate and meandering mayor.

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