Earlier this year, I visited one of the six joint legislative town halls organized by Democratic State Sen. Steve Glazer and Republican Assemblymemer Catharine Baker. This particular town hall in Orinda, a city within the overlapping swath of districts covered by each freshman legislator, was attended almost exclusively by older voters. Similarly, the bipartisan screeds against BART employees represented by unions leveled by each was met exclusively with overwhelming approval. Beating the anti-BART workers drum always works in this area of Contra Costa County. Whereas, Glazer and Baker owe their seats to angry voters upset over the BART strikes of over two years ago, something feels different as both, particularly Glazer, face re-election for the very first times. In recent weeks, Glazer has gone from pounding the BART drum to actually using the drum stick to bludgeon workers. With BART suffering from a string of malfunctions all over its system, Glazer has taken to the airwaves and Twitter to again exploit the politicization of employee unions.

State Sen. Steve Glazer and Assemblymember 
Catharine Baker at a town hall in Orinda earlier 
this year. PHOTO/Steven Tavares

Nobody is saying the malfunctions hampering BART services are due to workers negligence, but Glazer has hinted so with six days worth of attacks via his Twitter account and his assertions seem much more aggressive than any he made during the actual strikes or his campaign for the state Senate last May. Maybe the attacks are related to his re-election campaign? That would make sense, but few believe the pair challenging Glazer this June have a chance of unseating him. But pull back the lens and recall the inordinate number of town halls held with the Republican Baker over the past few months along with the fact the Democrat-led Assembly leadership desperately wants to win back Baker’s seat this fall. The town hall appearances and Glazer’s reigniting of the potent BART strike issue leads some to believe short of the Democrat endorsing Baker, he is actively stoking the BART furor and, by extension, helping her beat back the challenge from the Democrat in the race for the 16th Assembly District, former Pleasanton Councilmember Cheryl Cook-Kallio. And it’s not like Cook-Kallio is that much different from the ideological center that Glazer governs from, and in some cases, Baker, too. At the end of the Orinda town hall, I asked Glazer why he doesn’t just become an independent in Sacramento. His answer was colored with nostalgia for the Democratic brand. “I kind of like being a Democrat,” said Glazer. Kind of like a transplanted New Yorker living in Oakland might like the A’s, but in their heart, always a Yankees fan.


ALAMEDA | Is This Place Bugged?
The push for rent control in Alameda is hitting the streets starting this week. Island resident will begin noticing members of the Alameda Renters Coalition gathering signatures for inclusion of a measure limiting annual rent increases to just below the Consumer Price Index in time for the November ballot. The group, which has been pivotal in bringing the issues of skyrocketing rent prices to the forefront in Alameda, says it needs to gather 9,000 valid signatures over the next month. In recent weeks, the group has been using the Alameda Firefighters’ Union Hall for strategy meetings. But renters might be wise to sweep the place for listening devices. That’s because the offices on Clement Street also houses Alameda consultant Barbara Price. She’s a person with close ties to developers and big-time property owners in town. Any strategy to thwart the renters’ push for a charter amendment to stabilize rents will likely come from Price. Word is during one renters meeting, Price objected to them using one of her chairs.

Rep. Mike Honda
PHOTO/Steven Tavares

CA17 | Baby Mama Drama
When regional members of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) announced they were switching support from 17th Congressional District Rep. Mike Honda for Ro Khanna, the news was notably because it hinted at cracks in the incumbent’s greatest field of support–labor unions. No further fractures in labor’s support have been seen since and it appears in the case of LIUNA all politics is not only local, but very personal. Flashback to last year when state Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Southern California Democrat, issued support for Khanna. De Leon has ties to LIUNA, but also a parental bound with San Jose Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco. The two share a son together. The loss of the LIUNA endorsement may partly be the result of Honda declining to endorse Carrasco’s runs for the San Jose City Council. Furthermore, when LIUNA announced they were endorsing Khanna this year Carrasco was up there lending her support.

Ignacio De La Fuente during an Oakland
candidates forum in 2012. PHOTO/Shane Bond

OAKLAND | Mr. Irrelevant
Words around Oakland is former Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente (IDLF) still wants to be a power player the city’s politics and he’s forming a slate of candidates to oppose three of the four incumbents this fall. The lone candidate outside of IDLF’s sights is Fruitvale Councilmember Noel Gallo, whose 2012 campaign he strongly supported. In that race, many believe IDLF was behind a number of stinging political hits against Gallo’s opponent, current Alameda County Central Committee member Mario Juarez. When asked about IDLF’s rumored slate, the always candid Juarez shot back,”That’s the kind of things you do when you’re irrelevant.” Full disclosure: Juarez’s comments may have also included a few expletives for emphasis.

Hayward CM Francisco Zermeno and his
emoji doppelganger.

HANGING CHADS | Future of Fight for 15 in San Leandro
There are 10 candidates running this June for four seats on the Hayward City Council, but only one of them can be depicted as an emoji. Tell me Councilmember Francisco Zermeno (right) doesn’t look like the brown grandpa emoji …. Honda’s campaign is beginning to highlight his strong ties to labor. Not only did they trumpet a number of union endorsements this week, but it followed the trotting out of Dolores Huerta‘s support for his re-election. Huerta’s credentials in the labor movement are unquestioned, but its seems every union-supporting elected official and candidate relies on her. It begs the question: Who is the next generation of the labor movement in California and Latinos in general? …. It remains to be seen whether Gov. Jerry Brown‘s announcement Monday of legislation that will increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2022 will affect East Bay cities like San Leandro, which is currently discussing its own city ordinances. Councilmember Jim Prola, the strongest proponent for the increase, said last month, the proposed ordinance could be shelved if a ballot measure did the trick instead …. Alameda County Supervisor candidate Bryan Parker spoke about the African American experience at last week’s American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington D.C. Parker’s strong support for AIPAC since January has some puzzled as to how it relates to this campaign this June to unseat District Four Supervisor Nate Miley. We might understand better after the April 28 pre-election campaign finance reports are due.