Republican East Bay Assemblymember Catharine Baker voted against the state’s $122.5 billion budget package this week.

However, there were some parts of the budget Baker supported, such as setting aside $2 billion for the state’s rainy day fund. Baker, though, criticized increased spending and additional funding for high-speed rail, a project she has always vigorously opposed.

Baker, who is up for re-election for the first time (she is facing Democrat Cheryl Cook-Kallio in November), had one other gripe with the budget bill—the additional funding of medical benefits for undocumented immigrants.

In a statement, Baker disagreed with the allocation of “nearly $200 million to cover Medi-Cal benefits for undocumented immigrants at a time when legal residents already cannot get timely access to care the Medi-Cal provider network continues to shrink.”

The sentiment would not be popular in the Greater East Bay, but might be amendable in the purplish 16th Assembly District centered in Walnut Creek, Lamorinda and the Tri Valley. Give her credit, though, she didn’t say “illegal aliens” or any other pejorative for immigrants often used by Republicans. She said undocumented immigrants. Might that also be due to the large shadow of Donald Trump possibly darkening her re-election campaign this fall?

Assemblymember Bill Quirk in San Lorenzo.

GRIPES AND WRATH OF LABOR While on the subject of Baker, she also voted against an Assembly bill earlier this month authored by Southern California Democratic Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez that would have lowered the number of hours from 10 to 8 for farm workers in the state to receive overtime pay. That’s not news. Assembly Republicans led the charge in defeating the bill, but opposition from Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk, a labor-friendly Democrat, was surprising. Quirk voted for Assembly Bill 2757 a week earlier as a member of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, but voted no during the final tally on June 2. Suffice to say the United Farm Workers and other labor unions are quite upset with Quirk. Other Assembly Democrats also jumped ship and voted no. But, more curiously, Quirk’s defection is additionally surprising when you take into account that he represents Hayward, a city with the largest percentage of Latinos in the East Bay.

In the event of a disaster, Alameda Mayor Trish 
Spencer believes she should lead the response team.

ALAMEDA’S DISASTER-IN-CHIEF The dubiously named Alameda Disaster Council will be hotly debated at next Tuesday’s Alameda City Council. The emergency body is designed to coordinate the island’s efforts in the event of a disaster, natural or man-made. The City Council will discuss formalizing rules over the Disaster Council’s composition and roles next week. Mayor Trish Spencer, though, is reportedly predicting a “blood bath” Tuesday night, according to a City Hall source. That’s because she believes the Disaster Council should be headed by the mayor, not the city manager, as prescribed in the current proposed ordinance. Spencer voiced the same opinion when the Disaster Council was discussed during a City Council meeting last December. Alameda’s municipal governance structure, like many other medium-sized Bay Area cities, is predicated on a strong city manager model. The city manager runs the day-to-day operations of the city and the mayor is basically a glorified member of the city council. Spencer clearly dislikes this set-up and also dislikes new Alameda City Manager Jill Keimach. Recall, Spencer was the lone vote against her hiring earlier this year.

Hayward placed restrictions on dispensaries six
years ago after a string of robberies.

HAYWARD OPENS ITS MIND ON POT More than six years ago, Hayward residents with a medical marijuana card could buy the product within city limits. A few robberies—one that incidentally occurred while then-councilmember, now Mayor Barbara Halliday was touring a local dispensary—was co-opted by the Hayward Police to persuade the Council to ban the shops in town. Now, with the increasing likelihood voters in the state will approve a ballot initiative legalizing marijuana altogether, the Hayward City Council may be changing its tune, or, at the very least, putting itself in a position to react appropriately. On Tuesday, the council provided direction to city staff to create a possible ballot measure for November that would ask voters to give the city the authority to tax marijuana in different forms in the event dispensaries are again allowed in Hayward. The city might also ask voters to approve certain regulations on where dispensaries or other marijuana-related businesses are able to set up shop. For instance, the council might ask voters whether the industry should be limited to doing business in warehouse areas in Hayward, and a certain distance from schools and residential areas. Hayward Councilmember Francisco Zermeno, a long-time opponent of dispensaries in the city, softened his stance Tuesday night. He said his mother, who recently broke her foot, was contemplating using medical marijuana for pain management. He then added, “I do not smoke marijuana myself, but I used to when I was a hippie.”

Oakland Councilmember Noel Gallo could have
at least one challenger this November.

ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S LARRY Candidates for local November races have until the end of August to throw their names into the ring. Some are already doing it. In Oakland, for example, Councilmember Larry Reid and the three freshman members of the council—Lynette Gibson McElhaney, Noel Gallo and Dan Kalb—are up for re-election. Oakland probate attorney Kevin Corbett already has a campaign web site for his bid for Kalb’s North Oakland district. Gallo is rumored to have an opponent showing interest in challenging him for the District 5 seat centered in the Fruitvale. Viola Gonzales, CEO of AnewAmerica, a socially-conscious business incubator for immigrants, women and minority groups, is one prospective challenger. As for Larry Reid, who knows if he’s running for re-election? It wouldn’t be summertime if Reid doesn’t express election-year doubt over whether he wants to continue representing District 7 for another four years. He also may be waiting for another signal from the Almighty. Two years ago, Reid said he was thinking about running for mayor against Jean Quan, provided God issued a sign one way or another. God allegedly said, “No, Larry.”


SANDERS LEADS IN OAKLAND Even though the mainstream media declared Hillary Clinton the presumptive Democratic nominee for president about 12 hours before the polls opened in California last week, voters in Alameda County, and specifically, Rep. Barbara Lee’s 13th District centered around Oakland were feeling the Bern. On Thursday, Bernie Sanders nudged past Clinton in the 13th Congressional District. Overall in Alameda County, Clinton still leads Sanders by less than four percent, but the margin has continually dropped since the June 7 primary. However, being that this part of the Bay Area is likely one of the most progressive areas in the country, it makes you wonder why Sanders didn’t do better? Could the mainstream media’s bid to abruptly end the primary season the night before the California Primary be the culprit?