As a TV drama, Mayor Stephen Cassidy
would be cast as the villain.
SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | Is the San Leandro City Council ready for its close up? One of the East Bay’s last government bodies to offer residents the option to view meetings online or in the comfort of their home makes it broadcast premiere tonight. Here’s a brief primer on the cast and characters, the plots and subplots to the growing divisiveness of this typically harmonious council.
MAYOR STEPHEN CASSIDY He used to be large. In fact, he’s half the man he used to be following some sort of gimmick diet. However, that hasn’t diminished the typical pink hue of his face. It’s either high-blood pressure or a visual indication of his personal feelings toward colleagues or opponents. Viewers at home, depending on the camera shot direction might notice Cassidy leer, audibly huff and puff and rub his eyes in frustration.
COUNCILMEMBER JIM PROLA Other than being one of the most unabashedly progressive council members in the East Bay, Prola is known for two things during meetings. His love of being a member of the Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District (they were no reported cases of West Nile disease last month, he might relay to viewers) and a detailed listing of every single public appearance he made in the last two weeks. Prola is dedicated and jovial–a real backslapper–but, his laundry list of doings around town can last a good 10 minutes! Watch for him to occasionally flash signs of potent passive aggressiveness toward Cassidy.
Michael Gregory: L.L. Bean model?
COUNCILMEMBER MICHAEL GREGORY He’s a cool cat ripped from the pages of the L.L. Bean fall catalog. Gregory is big on transportation and often rides his bike to council meetings. He may not like a certain person or issue, but he’ll never show it.
COUNCILMEMBER DIANA SOUZA She doesn’t like Cassidy and she often shows it by repeatedly questioning him during meetings. Her comments often lend credence to a belief among many that Cassidy belittles his council colleagues in private and diminishes their opinions everywhere else. However, Souza often asks the same question to city staff even after they answer and begin with the phrase, “Just so we understand…”
COUNCILMEMBER PAULINE CUTTER She doesn’t say much, but when she does, she is often shot down by her main ally on the council, Mayor Cassidy. Like Souza, Cutter tends to overly ask for confirmation of information that is only dispense a minute earlier.
Ursula Reed: watch for the devastating eye-roll.
COUNCILMEMBER URSULA REED Seated the furthest from Cassidy, watching Reed roll her eyes at the mayor’s comments is a delight. She often mumbles what sounds like disparaging words toward Cassidy when cut off by the mayor. Reed is running for the open Alameda County superintendent of schools office next year, which has shaded some of here more controversial votes like medical cannabis dispensaries in San Leandro.
COUNCILMEMBER BENNY LEE As the council member with the least seniority, Lee doesn’t speak much or make statements with much authority. Coming from the city’s somewhat conservative enclave in Washington Manor and Heron Bay, he also strongly represents the city’s growing Asian American community. He’s the first Asian American council member in the city’s history and unwittingly made news last month when he proposed raising the Chinese flag over City Hall in celebration of the nation’s national day. Cassidy opposed the resolution after some in the community objected, along with Bay Area groups in favor of Tibetan independence.
SUPPORTING CAST Unlike other cities, San Leandro does not possess many public commenters who often provide a Greek chorus of commentary, comedy or derision. However, some political observers will be able to put a face to the overheated blogging emanating form Margarita Lacabe, also a member of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee. She is deeply unpopular among committee members and often a vessel for taking opposing sides merely to incite conflict. Lacabe helped Cassidy win election in 2010, but quickly became a constant thorn in his side. She famously offered potential opponents against Cassidy next year a potent negative mailer-in-the-making when, during a council meeting, she told Cassidy, “Stephen, why do you lie?”