CAMPAIGN 2014 | SAN LEANDRO | Politicians take credit for things. It’s a fact of life that becomes amplified during campaign season. So, it’s no surprise San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy is pumping up his resume over the last four years in office with accomplishments that may more credibly belong to others. The things is, he doesn’t have to obfuscate when he already has a surefire and compelling story already in his back pocket.
At little fact-checking, first. In a email sent to supporters this week, Cassidy boasted of balancing the city’s budget. “We ended the string of multi-million annual deficits, achieving a balanced budget every year I’ve been in office,” he says. The argument is well-worn and somewhat dishonest since municipal budgets cannot run deficits from year-to-year. San Leandro’s budget must be balanced every year. That being said, San Leandro’s fiscal situation is indeed positive, but it was already positioned to withstand the Great Recession with far thinner deficits than neighboring East Bay cities.
Like much of Cassidy’s description of San Leandro’s future, an argument can be made the foundation was laid during former Mayor Tony Santos’ tenure. In fact, the progressive Santos somehow evaded the wrath of his liberal constituents by heavily trimming the city’s workforce as the recession sunk its teeth into city services in 2008-2009. This was done well before other cities like Hayward and Oakland eventually employed similar austerity measures also including furloughs and asking workers to pay more into their pensions.
San Leandro’s renaissance according to Cassidy allowed the city to reinstate the popular Cherry Festival and opened the new Senior Community Center on East 14th Street, along with keeping city libraries, pools and parks open. However, none of these accomplishments would have occurred if the sales tax measure Cassidy actively opposed in 2010 was defeated by voters. No other new revenue source did more to prop up San Leandro’s fiscal security than Measure Z.
The arrival of Kaiser Permanente this year to San Leandro is a definite future cash cow for the city in innumerable ways, but, yet again, the deal was done many years before the thought of Cassidy running for mayor ever crossed anybody’s mind. Similarly, the most important development for the future of San Leandro in decades, the Lit San Leandro downtown fiber-optic loop, has little do with city government and more to do with the vision of OSIsoft founder Patrick Kennedy, who funded the project out of his own pocket.
Yet within the latter argument, Cassidy can plausible take great credit for promoting San Leandro as the epicenter of Silicon Valley’s next wave of innovators. Ask around and you will find a growing consensus outside of San Leandro who sense the city is not only the next big thing, but more importantly for their bottom lines, very friendly to tech businesses. Despite all of Cassidy’s falsehoods, nudging the future of entire city in a positive direction is all he really needs to win re-election and not taking credit for things he had little or no role in achieving.