Swalwell: I’m Liberal! But not for the East Bay, says Rankings

Talking out Both Sides of their Mouths Edition | What was Schaaf Thinking? | Zany Zermeno

CHAPTER 5 | Apparently, being called out for numerous lapses of ethical conduct is a problem than can be worked out for Rep. Eric Swalwell. However, don’t you dare call him a moderate! Over the past few years, Swalwell has embraced both the liberal and moderate moniker, often when it suits his purposes, whether reaching out to Hayward liberals or conservatives over the hill. Whatever he is, Swalwell is definitely not an East Bay liberal, a certain breed of Democrat with a far deeper hue of blue than the rest of the country. Last month, the National Journal’s annual rankings of Congress by political ideology found Swalwell to be the 86th most liberal member of the House’s 435 members. Yes, Swalwell is quite liberal for the Birmingham, Tallahassee and Salt Lake City, but not the Bay Area. In fact, among the region’s eight members of Congress, Swalwell ranks as the next to last in terms of his liberal voting record. Only the South Bay’s Rep. Zoe Lofgren measured lower. Incidentally, Lofgren’s district sits next to the most liberal member of not only the Bay Area House caucus, but the entire Congress in Rep. Mike Honda (He finished in a seven-way tie for first). One reason for Swalwell’s low score in relation to the Bay Area colleagues rests on his conservative votes on foreign policy. This is no surprise since a growing chunk of his campaign contributions come from defense contractors and pro-Israel lobbying groups. Nevertheless, don’t be surprised when mailers from Swalwell’s campaign touts the 86th most liberal meme sometime this year, however, minus the additional local context. Below is the National Journal’s 2013 rankings for most liberal members of Congress, sorted for the Bay Area’s delegation, including their overall rank in parentheses:

1. Mike Honda (CA17)…….96.3 (1)
2. Barbara Lee (CA13)……90.5 (28)
3. Anna Eshoo (CA18)…….86.2 (48)
4. Jackie Speier (CA14)….86.0 (49)
5. George Miller (CA11)….84.0 (63)
6. Nancy Pelosi (CA12)…..83.7 (66)
7. Eric Swalwell (CA15)….80.2 (86)
8. Zoe Lofgren (CA19)……78.0 (99)
(Source: National Journal)

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San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy
PHOTO/Shane Bond

REVISIONIST HISTORY Last Monday, San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy admonished executives from the Alameda County Transportation Committee for not delineating what his city would receive by passing a potential transportation sales tax next fall. Cassidy told the ACTC representatives the lack of specificity was a reason Measure B1 narrowly fell short of two-thirds two years ago. What Cassidy left out was his role in fostering a strong anti-tax and pension environment in San Leandro beginning during his run for mayor four years ago. It’s the same ethos that stymied the measure in the Tri Valley and Fremont in 2012. The same group (some may label them Tea Party adherents) was also conveniently roused by Eric Swalwell during the same election against Pete Stark. Just a single precinct in the entire Tri Valley approved Measure B1 as it failed countywide by just 721 votes. Cassidy says he supports the transportation tax positioned for the November ballot, but his record of raising taxes is also suspect. He notably opposed San Leandro’s sales tax increase in 2010. Ironically, the proceeds for Measure Z propped up the city’s treasury during the worst of the Great Recession and may have put it on higher ground, as oppose to its neighboring cities, as the local economy slowly improves. He now lauds the tax and even supports renewing it before its sunset still a few years away. Despite Cassidy’s missteps, there is not a rush to challenge his re-election later this year, other than interest from Councilmember Diana Souza. It also doesn’t hurt that San Leandro’s farm system for future political candidates may be the worst in the entire East Bay.

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FEEDING FROM THE SAME TROUGH How pervasive is the big money connections among Tri Valley land developers, many of which are Eric Swalwell’s biggest donors, and other Tri Valley public officials? Ask a question about Swalwell and they often talk trash. But follow it with a question about suspicious characters, like garbage company Amador Valley Industries, Bill Watkins or Charter Properties and they clam up. On one occasion last year when I was interviewing former Pleasanton Mayor Jennifer Hosterman–she was then contemplating a run for Swalwell’s seat this year– she abruptly cut off the conversation when I broached the conduct of Amador Valley Industries, a Tri Valley garbage company I wrote about in 2012 which services both Dublin and Pleasanton. Weirdly she offered any conversation about AVI was privileged closed session information and immediately and comically shut off communication. Now Hosterman is endorsing Swalwell.
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Libby Schaaf

HERE AND THERE If there was some sort political posturing during Tuesday’s vote in Oakland on the Domain Awareness Center, it was hard to discern. Oakland mayoral candidate Councilmember Libby Schaaf, voicing opposition to the DAC, offered a second to Councilmember Desley Brooks’ amendment to shrink the spy center back to the Port of Oakland and airport. Schaaf then inexplicably voted against the amendment and allowing Mayor Jean Quan to break the 4-4 tie. Headlines and ledes the next day made it seem like Quan saved the day…Additional information from a poll last December shows San Francisco State professor Joe Tuman is a strong Oakland mayoral contender when ranked-choice voting is applied…We talked about another Oakland mayoral candidate, Jason “Shake” Anderson last week. Every candidate in the East Bay can take some pointers from Anderson’s media skills; in addition, to his ability to raise his own profile without much money, but with a whole lot of personality……One still loyal Pete Stark supporter marveled this week at the number of people in various political circles and unions in the East Bay, who once voiced strong dislike for Swalwell, now jockeying to have their picture taken with the new congressman. In addition, one loyal supporter of Ellen Corbett, who voted for her pre-endorsement last month, then donated money last week to Swalwell’s crowdsourcing campaign to help send his delegates to the party convention this weekend in Los Angeles…Swalwell and Corbett will meet in a candidate’s forum April 17 at Hayward’s City Hall, the same venue that featured Pete Stark alleging Swalwell took bribes. The event begins at 6 p.m…Alameda’s politically brawny firefighters’ union is taking a liking to political newcomer Malia Vella, according to sources on the island. She is Assemblymember Bill Quirk’s former district director. The firefighters were credited (blamed?) for successfully pushing their slate of candidates onto the City Council four years ago. That group constituted the council’s new majority. One of the three, of course, included now-Assemblymember Rob Bonta. Two seats are up for grabs in Alameda this November.

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Francisco Zermeno

ONE MORE THING Hayward Councilmember Francisco Zermeno is running for mayor this June. But to call Zermeno a crowd-pleaser would be an understatement. Some might describe his politics as a bit squirmy and over-the-top. Remember when he voted down free food-serving in Hayward and then offered planting fruit trees on city streets as a solution for feeding the homeless and poor? This week, Zermeno, who once ended his remarks with the slogan, “Viva La Hayward!” (He now prefers “Hayward On!”), talked up the legacy of labor legend Cesar Chavez. The United Farm Workers leader may be Zermeno’s hero, but the candidate’s recent actions in support of the Hayward City Council imposing a five percent cut in city employee’s pay represents one of the harshest blow to the East Bay labor scene in recent memory. Somehow the disconnect between praising Chavez’s legacy and laying a hammer on city workers makes perfect sense to Zermeno, who is facing fellow Councilmembers Barbara Halliday and Mark Salinas, both of which also supported the contract imposition last month. Zermeno’s logic is akin Bruce Springsteen superfan belting out “How can a poor man stand such times and live” while wearing a Sen. Ted Cruz t-shirt.

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