THINGS I THINK
1➤I think Rep. Eric Swalwell is the greatest salesman in America. Over the past two years or more absolutely nobody, except for fellow Golden State Rep. Adam Schiff, has leveraged cable news and social media better to raise their profile in Washington. It started with clever, cutesy social media postings–“#swalwelling on Twitter and short videos on Vine–and morphed into hours upon hours of appearances on the gamut of cable news networks. Here’s a story: I was on vacation in New York City two weeks ago and met a man from New Jersey (I also met another man from New Jersey. His name is Bruce Springsteen. More on that another time). I told him I write about politics in Northern California. This person was clearly a political junkie, so I asked if he knows Swalwell. He clearly knew more than the name and was appreciative that he was always slamming Trump on TV. Swalwell is clearly making an impact. Here’s the crazy thing: All of this has been done without Swalwell ever accomplishing a single thing during his political career! This isn’t hyperbole, either. He didn’t even accomplish anything while on the Dublin City Council.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf continues
to have problems in the flatlands.
2➤I think all too often lost in the controversy over NFL players protesting during the National Anthem is the baseline complaint being made about police brutality against African Americans in this country. Forget for a moment President Trump’s tweet calling for Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch to be suspended for sitting during the National Anthem at a game last weekend in Mexico City, but standing for the Mexican national song. Instead, let’s talk about Mayor Libby Schaaf‘s response. On Twitter, she asserted that Trump should instead be suspended. By whom, it was not clear. But more than a few on the social platform noted the whiff of hypocrisy coming from Schaaf. Recall, Oakland’s poor record on race relations between its police officers and African Americans, in addition, to last year’s scandal involving its officers and a then-underage woman. Although, it won’t likely threaten her re-election next year, there is still a consistent buzz in Oakland from African American residents who simply do not trust Schaaf. It’s a lingering problem rooted in historical contempt between flatlanders and affluent whites in the Oakland Hills and she’s made zero headway in fixing the divide.
3➤I think it should always feel strange when I say to lay off a bit on an elected official, but in the case of State Sen. Nancy Skinner and disclosures of sexual harassment in the Legislature, it’s warranted. One report attempted to knock Skinner for having knowledge, as a former chair of the Assembly Rules Committee, of at least one alleged incident of sexual harassment by a Democratic legislator. Clearly, statewide officials have used the Rules Committee, whiich acts as the Legislature’s Human Resource Department, as a cloak to hide their indiscretions for years. My hot take here is I suspect the rumors of Skinner being on the short-list for senate pro tem has legs and one of her competitors for the coveted post is trying to undermine her moral authority as a woman who has always strongly backed, well, women.
|San Leandro Councilmember Lee Thomas|
4➤I think residents not only in San Leandro, but across the East Bay, should watch what Councilmember Lee Thomas is doing in that city. For the most part of the last year, Thomas raised a number of red flags regarding iffy finances at the Davis Street Family Resource Center and then its involvement with the proposed Davis Street Wellness Center, a medical cannabis dispensary. Both issues are troublesome and run the risk of costing San Leandro taxpayers significantly if they don’t pan out. Without Thomas calling out the once-sainted head of the Family Resource Center last year, the public might not know about the extent of its inability to payback a $1.5 million loan from the city nor its curious connection to the affiliated dispensary. Later, Thomas spearheaded the city’s push to ban flavored tobacco even though some of his colleagues were less than courageous on the subject. When Thomas couldn’t get approved what he really wanted, that is, an additional ban on menthol cigarettes, he may have alienated his fellow councilmembers by calling them out during a meeting, but he showed himself to be a fighter for what’s right. This is the type of leadership all cities should demand from their elected officials.
5➤I think I’m thankful for city clerks in every city in Alameda County, yes, every city. They are some of the greatest public employees to work with. I’ve noticed this trend for years now, starting with the great Marian Handa, when I first covered San Leandro. I can’t figure out why without exception they are hard-working, knowledgeable, always accessible and helpful. What is it about city clerks? Special mention to Alameda City Clerk Lara Weisinger, who recently responded to my public records request in record-breaking time, within a few minutes.