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Decision 2010: D-Day

Submitted by on 1, October 6, 2010 – 4:50 am23 Comments

For disclosure day, natch. Tuesday was the first due date for candidates to file campaign contributions and expenditures for the November 2 election. But more on that in a minute.

The big news right now is a press conference city councilman and mayoral candidate Frank Matarrese held on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday. A few weeks back, Matarrese was the subject of a nasty four-question robocall that asked whether recipients of the call would vote for Matarrese who the call claimed, among other things, “allowing over 100,000 of our taxpayer dollars to target a female city council colleague at a time when our government services are being cut and schools are being closed for lack of funding.” (The council had no formal input in that decision.) A poll conducted by Magellan Strategies that was widely broadcast on the Web also showed Matarrese lagging behind dais-mates Doug deHaan and Marie Gilmore in the mayor’s race.

So who’s responsible? Matarrese thinks it’s SunCal. He said SunCal’s chief operating officer, Frank Faye, had threatened to sue the city if officials didn’t vote to extend SunCal’s stay on the Island, and that Faye also threatened to get involved in the election if things didn’t go SunCal’s way. Matarrese’s campaign also sent reporters press clippings showing SunCal had targeted an opponent on the Albuquerque City Council in a 2009 election. SunCal had hoped to build a new community on tens of thousands of acres there.

“Add it up,” Matarrese said.”There is big money that is trying to influence this election.”

“I’m the key to this. If they get rid of my vote, they’re back in the game,” he added. And he said he thinks there’s a possibility his fellow dais-mates could allow SunCal back into town, a notion they vehemently denied Tuesday.

“I can’t compete with this. And that’s the real story here, the manipulation of an election,” Matarrese said. He said his campaign has complained to the Public Utilities Commission, saying the calls broke the law because the pollsters didn’t say who was paying for them.

SunCal spokesman David Soyka said the company hasn’t sponsored any polls in connection with Alameda’s council and mayoral races. “We are not responsible for any polls,” Soyka said.

Soyka confirmed a meeting did take place between Faye and Matarrese and every other member of the council; when asked to confirm Matarrese’s version of the meeting, he would only say they discussed “the recommendations of (Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant) and indicated that her actions might put the city at risk.”

Soyka said the company’s current interest is Gallant; attorneys representing SunCal in the lawsuit they filed against the city put a quarter-page ad in The Desert Sun newspaper last week seeking dirt on Gallant’s past work history, as well as a website and a toll-free telephone line.

Campaign disclosures released Tuesday offered no obvious clues as to who is responsible for the polls.

Council and mayoral candidates contacted by The Island on Tuesday vehemently denied Matarrese’s claim that they’d bring SunCal back to town if elected and expressed disappointment over Matarrese’s claim (Matarrese conceded the claim was speculation).

“His claims about me are paranoid and wrong,” Gilmore said. “The SunCal experiment in Alameda is over. The only issue that remains is defending ourselves against SunCal’s lawsuits so that we can move on.”

Fellow mayoral candidate and former councilman Tony Daysog also said he wouldn’t let SunCal come back to town if elected, while Councilwoman Lena Tam, who is seen by many as the developer’s staunchest supporter on the council, said she will “vigorously fight” the company’s lawsuit. Council candidate Rob Bonta said he voted against Measure B, SunCal’s ballot measure, in February.

“I have absolutely no intention of allowing SunCal to come back as part of any litigation settlement or in any other way whatsoever,” Bonta said.

Mayor Beverly Johnson, who has also claimed SunCal is influencing the election, didn’t respond to a call seeking comment on the claim; deHaan, who a reporter called Monday for comment on claims SunCal was responsible for the polls, said he had “no idea” who was making the calls and suggested the reporter call Johnson and Matarrese.

Back to those disclosures: The first round of campaign contribution and expenditure reports for the November 2 election was due Tuesday, and the reports are available online. So far, Alameda’s king of campaign cash is council candidate Rob Bonta, who has taken in $48,831.20 for this race. Bonta, who has faced criticism for taking out-of-town donations – just $2,355 of the $14,355 in cash and in-kind contributions he has received since July came from Alameda residents – said he’s collected more money in town than any other candidate, and that his donations come from a “broad range” of community members, friends and neighbors (many of them fellow attorneys).

Lena Tam was next in the council money race, pulling in $26,278.30 to date, followed by Mayor Beverly Johnson who collected $22,518.16 (though the amount includes $13,682.81 from Johnson’s failed supervisorial bid and $3,746.42 from a “DBA” for her campaign). Planing Board president Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft listed contributions of $20,051, including $12,850 she contributed. (Jean Sweeney filed her form on time Tuesday, but it wasn’t online yet when a reporter checked Tuesday night.)

Jeff Mitchell raised $2,170, while council candidates Tracy Jensen and Adam Gillitt filed forms showing they’d raised and spent less than $1,000 so far.

On the mayoral front, Matarrese leads the cash dash with $36,029, followed by Gilmore, with $25,657. Daysog listed $9,050 in contributions, much of it from himself and his family. Mayoral candidate Kenny “The Clown” Kahn didn’t list contributions on his disclosure, and deHaan hadn’t filed a disclosure form by Tuesday’s deadline.

Big donors included Alameda’s firefighters, who gave $5,000 to Gilmore and another $2,500 to Tam, and Asian political godfather C.C. Yin, who gave $2,500 to Tam and $2,000 to Bonta. Oakland City Attorney John Russo gave $1,000 to Gilmore and $500 to Tam, while state Board of Equalization member (and Alameda resident) Betty Yee gave $500 to Tam and $250 to Bonta and Alameda County Superior Court Judge Delbert Gee (also an Alameda resident) gave $100 each to Tam and Ezzy Ashcraft.

Matarrese took in $5,000 from state Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, $3,000 from the Northern California Carpenters union and $3,200 from a local attorney whose firm represents labor unions and employees, while Gilmore got $2,500 from yacht merchant John Beery. Ezzy Ashcraft got $500 from West Bay Congresswoman Jackie Speier, while Bonta took $500 from West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon.

Tam’s donations include $1,000 from Alameda County Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker, $500 from the California Asian Police Officers Association, $500 from the local branch of the National Women’s Political Caucus – and $500 from Mayer Brown, a law firm that counts Robert Hertzberg as a partner. SunCal hired Hertzberg after they lost the Measure B election in an effort to repair relations with city officials.

Candidates have insisted they wouldn’t take contributions from developers, and the disclosures didn’t show any direct developer contributions (unless you count Johnson’s supervisorial campaign cash, which included $10,000 from Ron Cowan’s Harbor Bay Isle Associates).

The next round of disclosures is due October 21.

Fire fight: Meanwhile, Alameda’s firefighters are going after deHaan, sending out a letter that says deHaan has claimed to support public safety and redevelopment of the Alameda Theatre, Harbor Bay Isle and Business Park, Alameda Towne Centre and the Bridgeside shopping center. DeHaan, whose supporters picketed Fire Station One on Sunday, has hit back at the firefighters on his website, saying he’s never taken money from “special interest groups such as the Firefighters … Why? Because money has strings attached and we have a commitment to the community to be fair and equitable.”


  • j cloren says:

    Shame on SUN CAL again! shame on LENA TAM again!


  • David Howard says:

    Verifiable facts:

    o Rob Bonta was Lena Tam’s campaign manager in 2006.

    o Rob Bonta and Lena Tam both use Alliance Campaigns as campaign consultants.

    o Lena Tam and Rob Bonta share the same campaign treasurer.

    o Rob Bonta has accepted tens of thousands of dollars of campaign contributions from interests outside of Alameda.

    o Marie Gilmore has sided with Tam on the investigation into her forwarding of confidential City of Alameda e-mails to SunCal.

    Any reasonable reader/voter can add it up.

  • L Baroni says:

    This paragraph from Michele’s article is worth repeating – to be sure everyone reads this:

    “Tam’s donations include ….. and $500 from Mayer Brown, a law firm that counts Robert Hertzberg as a partner. SunCal hired Hertzberg after they lost the Measure B election in an effort to repair relations with city officials”

    A lawyer being PAID by SunCal?????????????

  • David Howard says:

    Good point re: Mayer Brown. Rob Bonta also took contributions – over $1000 – from at least 3 different attorneys at Keker Van Nest, the law firm that defended Lena Tam over the allegations of her misconduct.

  • Anthony says:

    I cannot believe Alameda. What a joke of a community. You all are worried about small donors giving to Tam and to Bonta. Meanwhile everyone is FINE with our City Manager running this City into the ground. That is incredible to me. What is more troubling to me is a sitting Mayor that accepted 10k from a developer. I could not care if Rob and Lena are friends, that is apparent what I care about is no COuncilmember removing the the City Manager. Wake up Alamedans!

  • Karen Bey says:


    It’s apparent from your email — “Wake up Alameda, you’re worried…” that you are not an Alamedan. Are you from SunCal?

    Your email is only targeting the people who ran SunCal out of town.

  • Daniel says:

    It seems that Soyka of SunCal is telling the truth when he says they are interested in Ann Marie Gallant. I received a mailing today that was paid for by SCC Alammeda Point LLC (which I presume is SunCal). It is an astounding piece of mud-slinging, comparing Gallant to th Bell, CA City Manager. It has a call to action to call Mayor Johnson and a website to find out more about why Gallant is “unelected and unaccountable.”

    To echo J Cloren, Shame on SunCal!

  • Daniel says:

    I tried going to the website mentioned in the Anti-Gallant mailing, only to find a nearly blank page stating that I had reached a password-protected site. Bogus!

  • Daniel,

    Yeah, just found that one in my mailbox too …

  • Dave L. says:

    Why won’t Gallant keep email beyond 30 days? Why would someone resist this request?

  • david burton says:

    Verifiable facts:
    1. Squirrels are grey
    2. Great White Sharks (despite the name) are grey
    3. Great White Sharks attack people

    Any reasonable reader can add it up.

  • Mike says:

    Bogus site? Looks like Mr. Matarrese is right on the money.

    It’s not time to move on. It’s time to bring light to a corporation that is underhanded and inserting itself inappropriately here.

  • Pete L. says:

    This goes beyond Alameda defending itself in a lawsuit.

  • ct says:

    The robocall and video were underhanded attempts to weaken Matarrese’s campaign, absolutely, but what was the basis for his saying “he thinks there’s a possibility his fellow dais-mates could allow SunCal back into town”? If Matarrese believes that council members could be conspiring with SunCal, then he shares the limited worldview of the alarmists who are trying to turn this general election into a referendum on SunCal. The City budget’s unsustainable course, school district cuts, public transportation cuts, the possibility of reduced emergency medical services, incompetence and waste at City Hall certainly deserve more attention.

  • Richard Bangert says:


    Let’s not make up things. “If Matarrese believes that council members could be conspiring with SunCal,”

    He never said they were conspiring. He said he thinks SunCal has their hands in this election. SunCal doesn’t need to have any meetings with any candidates to figure out who they might want to target.

    The reason for targeting Matarrese is that SunCal may think he is the least likely to get weak knees under a relentless PR campaign. Look at the mailer that started arriving in the mail today, speaking of targets. It asks residents (voters) to question why Mayor Johnson, who just happens to be running for council, is supporting the ICM. That mailer is a borderline violation of election law. Has SunCal filed papers to issue campaign hit pieces?

    Let’s see which candidates come out publicly against SunCal’s PR campaign by election day.

  • Dave L. says:

    I don’t think “SCC Alameda” is new. I was just watching a city council meeting with SunCal and they introduce them with that name. It was on their presentation too, so I don’t think they’re hiding anything FWIW.

  • David Howard says:

    After Suncal got a black eye on measure b, they started presenting themselves as “scc alameda point llc” in their marketing.

    That name has been the name of their alameda project entity for some time, they just didn’t publish it.

    I guess sometimes grey squirrels DO bite. When desperate…

  • Miss Information says:

    Dave L,

    Your thought is correct. SCC Alameda stands for SunCal Companies-Alameda.
    If you looked through all of the bankruptcy names when they were listed a few months ago, they all started SCC and the name of the city. Clever, huh?

    What part of the phrase Alameda voted them “off the island” don’t they understand????????? 85% of the people voting for Measure B told them to go away!

  • H. Mace says:

    I received the mailer about Gallant from SCC Alameda Point LLC today and was astounded and disgusted by the mudslinging and insinuation in it.

    I had previously not made a decision about who to cast votes for in this upcoming election. But I was already convinced that SunCal wasn’t in the city’s best interests. And convinced that Gallant had saved the city from making a huge misstep from going with SunCal.

    Tomorrow I will be contacting the Matarrese and Johnson campaigns and requesting lawn signs for them.

  • Jon Spangler says:

    SunCal has really done it this time: I have been through a number of their less-than-stellar decisions before this, but this latest mailer takes the cake. (I saw one courtesy of a City Council candidate tonight.)

    If SunCal wanted to help its opponents and hurt its (former) friends and allies, this hit piece was a terrific way to do both — and to demonstrate just how un-intelligent they could be…..

    I guarantee you they are doing this completely independently of any candidate in Alameda. No one in the race could possibly want to be allied with such an awful and totally counterproductive hit piece…(And they sure as he** never asked me about it:
    I would never support a mailer like that.)

  • BeBe Rebozo says:

    Since when is “big money” in elections a surprise? Is he concerned about all the non-local money Bonta has acquired? Apparently that is of no concern, just the so-called ‘polls’ that have made him look bad. I am concerned also. I wish we could avoid jumping to the conclusion that it has to be SunCal and that others candidates are somehow in league with them.

  • Dave L. says:

    H. Mace, I guess David Howard needs reading glasses, or, is trying yet again to make something out of nothing.

    Death to the SunCal Slate and the Evil Empire! :-)

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