Political Climate with Mark Simon: Notes, Quotes and Dust Motes

in Featured/Headline/PoliticalClimate

Baseball pitcher/philosopher Satchel Paige once said, “The social ramble ain’t restful.” And neither is the political ramble, which means, my dear friends, it’s time gather around the old campfire here at the Political Climate International News Center and sing songs about another edition of Notes, Quotes and Dust Motes.

PENINSULA NOW: It is a political truism that the no side always shows up on any issue. Former Redwood City Councilmen Jeff Gee and John Seybert, longtime political allies and friends, have launched a new group dedicated to making sure the yes side is mobilized and present. They’re calling the group Peninsula Now and they kicked it off recently at a small invitation-only event at the brand new Redwood City offices of builder W.L. Butler.

The invitation to the event said, “Peninsula Now is a voice that will bring to the forefront solutions that the Peninsula is facing today. Our efforts and advocacy are to find working solutions to provide relief to the issues of our aging infrastructure, traffic congestion, environment, social infrastructure and inclusion.”

At the request of Gee and Seybert, I participated at the kick-off event by asking them questions aimed at learning why they are forming the group. Because it was a private event and I accepted the invitation knowing that, I will leave to Seybert and Gee to detail in their own manner who attended.

The attendees were business and community leaders, including developers and real estate interests, and it is clear that Gee and Seybert are concerned that support is needed throughout the county for the kinds of changes that have occurred in Redwood City, changes they both supported when they were on the city council.

Gee said the organization is countywide, not limited to Redwood City, which reflects the reality that resistance to growth and housing runs through every community in the county and the opposition tends to be consistently vocal, organized and present.

Interestingly, Peninsula Now is not a political action committee but has been formed as a tax-exempt nonprofit that can make independent expenditures on behalf of candidates or on ballot issues.

All we need to complete the cycle is for someone to form a group named Peninsula Not Now.

LUCKY 13: In the race for the 13th Senate District seat being vacated by Jerry Hill, social entrepreneur Josh Becker landed a big-name endorsement: Governor Gavin Newsom. It comes just days before the June 30 deadline for fundraising, and the Newsom endorsement should help Becker boost his numbers, although, based on his performance to date, it’s not clear he needs any help raising money.

The endorsement comes with this statement from Newsom: “Josh is a long-time, dedicated community leader and I look forward to continuing to work with him on the key issues of education, housing, transportation, and the environment. Josh Becker has earned my confidence and endorsement.”

As a political reality, it’s hard to know how much influence Newsom will carry with voters, although he did get 75.5 percent of the vote in the 13th SD in his race for governor last year. It is certainly one more way for Becker to separate himself from the rest of the five-candidate field. Newsom does seem to endorse people in his own political image: younger, liberal, and with ties to tech and a substantial fundraising base.

Of course, the best endorsement, according to polling over many years, is Rep. Jackie Speier, who won re-election last year with 79.2 percent of the vote. She has not endorsed in this race.

Meanwhile, the lone candidate from Santa Clara County, former Assemblywoman Sally Lieber is in Clint, Texas, joining protests against the conditions at federal camps for migrant children. Among all the candidates, no one is going to out-left Lieber, it appears.

Millbrae Councilwoman Annie Oliva got into the campaign late and got off to a slow start, but she is beginning to post furiously about events and issues, although some of her statements are fairly general, as typified by a campaign video posting of a supporter: “I support Annie because she cares about California.” I’m glad we cleared that up.

Assemblyman Kevin Mullin and I have begun a series of interviews on our cable show The Game with all five candidates in the Senate race. Redwood City Councilwoman Shelly Masur went first and you can see the interview here: https://www.pentv.tv/videos/community/the-game/

ACTUAL NOTE-TYPE NOTES: The Redwood City Council race to watch next year could well be the newly formed Latino-majority District 3, currently represented by Janet Borgens. She’s already busily engaged, which is nothing new for the energetic Borgens, but the more profound question is whether the Latino community can identify and unite behind a candidate after all the effort to get a district with a Latino majority. … The name currently in circulation as a possible candidate is Ivan Reyes Martinez, whose role as executive director of the Redwood City Police Activities League has meant a high profile in the district. … Ashley Quintana, public policy manager for Facebook’s Community Affairs department and recent appointee to the Redwood City Arts Commission, was another rumored candidate but she told Political Climate she is not running. … Negotiations continue, but the rumor is a brewpub may be coming into the vacant retail spot at the newly refurbished San Carlos Caltrain station, adjacent to the Trestle apartment project. … Trestle was intended to be a classic example of transit-oriented development – a substantial apartment project literally next door to a Caltrain station and SamTrans hub and across the street from the bustling Laurel Street downtown neighborhood. Now, it seems, San Carlos is having problems with a large number of the units being taken over by Airbnb entrepreneurs, who are leasing the units and renting them out. The city’s primary concern appears to be collecting Transient Occupancy Tax from these units. This project, which I worked on while employed at SamTrans, was supposed to help provide long-term housing to renters. Clearly, housing Aibnb users doesn’t help.

Contact Mark Simon at mark.simon24@yahoo.com.

*The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Climate Online.