2017 YEAR IN EAST BAY POLITICS
Heading into the spring, most a number of East Bay cities had already moved toward declaring sanctuary city status. Some began contemplating the next step: urging Congress to impeach Trump. But issues closer to home dominated the conversation. In Oakland, the mayor and police department was still dealing with the stench of the Celeste Guap police scandal. Oakland and Alameda County officials also took yet another hit from the civil grand jury in June. Meanwhile, up in Sacramento, Assemblyman Rob Bonta’s ambitious bail reform bill stalls by the slimmest of margins. Richmond’s Kimberly Ellis, who runs an upstart bid for California State Democratic Party chairperson, knows the feeling. She also falls excruciatingly short of winning. But we start first with State Sen. Steve Glazer. Let’s just say he was a bad boy.
●Fiercely independent or a conservative in sheep’s clothing, East Bay State Sen. Steve Glazer is the lone no vote on the Democratic side for Gov. Jerry Brown’s gigantic $52 billion transportation bill. As punishment, Glazer is pushed out by the party’s leadership and resigns from his committee chair.
>>>>Oakland Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney proposes in April for the city to create a Department of Violence Prevention. The formation of new, and potentially costly city bureaucracy is met with opposition, but McElhaney finally succeeds after a passionate speech in the fall.
●Despite Alameda County Supervisor WIlma Chan’s wishes, the local agency formation body recommends against dissolution of the elected Eden Health District.
●Alameda County supervisors appoint Henry Levy to be its next treasurer-tax collector, but the vote is not unanimous as Supervisor Scott Haggerty abstains and Keith Carson questions Levy’s integrity after asserting he lied to the board.
●Hayward approves a massive, but market-rate-only, 476-unit development that will likely transform its downtown area, but also raises concerns later over the lack of new affordable housing in the city.
>>>>Renters in Alameda rejoice after the City Council enacts just cause restrictions on evictions. But landlords fight back with petition for a ballot measure to nullify the move. The petition drive is successful and the council later rescinds the just cause vote at the behest of renters who worry about the cost of another fight at the ballot box
TOP 10 STORY Richmond activist Kimberly Ellis falls just shy of becoming chair of the California Democratic Party after losing to Eric Bauman by less than 60 votes. Ellis will protest the vote, but a recount fails to overturn the result. The party nonetheless is fractured between the flood of new progressives and the old guard..
●Jasmine Abuslin, the woman involved in the infamous Oakland Police scandal, then identified as Celeste Guap, settles a lawsuit with the City of Oakland for $989,000 in damages.
>>>>Bail bond reform, the centerpiece of Assemblymember Rob Bonta’s legislative agenda for this year, fails by just a single vote, but may well resurface in 2018.
●Hayward, after taking a begrudging stance toward sanctuary status, becomes one in June. “It’s taken us a lot of time to get here, but I’m proud of the process,” notes Hayward Councilmember Al Mendall.
●The Alameda County grand jury blasts Oakland officials for secretly kowtowing to developers in closed session, while criticizing Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson for a conflict of interest involving a staffer’s non-profit.
●Court-appointed investigators conclude Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf was disinterested with inquiries into the police department’s investigation of officers accused of improper contact with then-minor Celeste Guap.
MORE: 2017 YEAR IN EAST BAY POLITICS
PART I: JAN-MAR: Battle of Berkeley
PART II: APR-JUNE: Richmond’s Ellis loses Dem chair race
PART III: JULY-SEPT: Fire Fight in Alameda
PART IV: OCT-DEC: Oakland Strikes