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Benny Lee Blames his Endorsers for City's Woes

Lee's mailer highlights bad decision-making by Shelia Young and Tony Santos.

I am the volunteer campaign manager for  Chris Crow, who is running for San Leandro City Council District 4, so when I received a mailer from his opponent, Benny Lee, I was quite interested in reading it.  I was expecting he'd use the mailer to answer criticisms on his lack of concrete proposals on how to move San Leandro forward.

Instead, his mailer focused on criticizing the City for three poor decisions made in the last decade.  Surprisingly, these were all done while two of his endorsers, Shelia Young and Tony Santos, were mayors of San Leandro.  Two of his other endorsers, O.B. Badger and Ursula Reed, were in the City Council at the time.  Tony Santos, in particular, has been Benny Lee's mentor and they are staunch allies.

The first issue Lee brings up is a loan guarantee the City gave to a private company - with Shelia Young's approval.  The borrowers defaulted, the lender wants the City to pay up, and we may be on the hook for millions of dollars.

Another has to do with a city street apparently under foreclosure.  Lee's mailer is not clear on the particulars, but it shows the matter going back to  2005, when Shelia Young was Mayor and Badger and Santos were in the City Council.

Finally, the mailer points out the City could have saved millions by refinancing its pension liabilities when interest rates first fell several years ago.  He is right, but both the Young and Santos administration ignored this issue.  It wasn't until Stephen Cassidy became mayor that the debt was refinanced.

Lee could have pointed out many other bad decisions past City Councils have made, such as having the City pay the employee's portion of their pensions, engaging in the Faith Fellowship and Albertson's litigations  (which combined cost the city about $7,000,000) and not handling the sex and race discrimination issues at the Police Department before getting sued.

I agree with Lee's tacit conclusion that both Tony Santos and Shelia Young, and more recently Reed, appear to have done less than a competent job while in the Council.   But there is no reason to suspect Lee will do any better.  On his mailer he calls himself a "financial analyst" and promises to fix the city's budget problems, but a quick look at his resume shows that his actual expertise is on IT, with a focus on financial computer systems.   His promise to search through the city budget for savings seems disingenuous when he could have easily done so already. The budget is available for download at the city's website.

And indeed, Lee has given us a hint of the type of decisions he will make if elected.  For example, he would kick a green-energy company out of town, because he fears the lone wind turbine they want to install will give his wife headaches.  He would ban marijuana dispensaries because a friend became addicted to alcohol as a teen and then died of cirrhosis (yes, I fail to see the connection as well).  He would get rid of RCV purportedly because Chinese Americans are unable to understand how to vote.  And he would not make Police officers have to pay their share of pension contributions.  In return, the Police union has spent more than $7,500 to get him elected.

Now, given that I support Chris Crow, it's not surprising that I'm unimpressed by Lee.  What is surprising is how unimpressed he seems to be with the people who endorsed him.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Marga Lacabe November 05, 2012 at 04:41 AM
I apologize the last link in the article is supposed to go to the Police Officer Association last financial disclosure report. However, as it's in a database, apparently I can't link to it directly. Instead you can read it at: http://sanleandrotalk.voxpublica.org/wp-content/uploads/slpoadis201012.pdf
sanleandronumerouno November 05, 2012 at 04:53 AM
Interesting how different people read things differently. I believe the point of the mailer is that the current ,mayor missed a filing deadline for inverse condemnation in regards to the King Trust and Bayfair putting the city at risk for millions of dollars in guarantees that go way back before Young, Santos or anyone else you mentioned was around.
Marga Lacabe November 05, 2012 at 05:05 AM
Is that what Benny told you to appease Shelia? Because according to the mailer the loan guarantee was made in May 2000, when Shelia was mayor. Furthermore, the mailer doesn't say anything about a missed deadline.
Fred Eiger November 05, 2012 at 01:06 PM
This will come down to a two man race between Justin Hutchison and Benny Lee. Chris Crow has no support, no lawn signs, no presence on the campaign trail and lots of baggage. GO JUSTIN!!!! JUSTIN represents the Manor because HE IS the MANOR!! VOTE JUSTIN!!
Carlos J November 05, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Where was the city attorney on all this? shouldn't it be staff (that were hired by former mayors) that files the proper paperwork and on time?
Summer Hemphill November 05, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Chris Crow will win handily & Fred will be exposed as the clueless conservative cretin that he is & I'll be LMFAO !!!
Fred Eiger November 06, 2012 at 02:17 AM
And Some-One Hump-her will be smoking a dobie to ease the pain of having to say; "Councilman Justin Hutchison"
Justin H. November 06, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Yes!! Fred and godbless you!! This will be a Benny or Me race!!!
Carlos J November 06, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Nearly all candidates are at a very important city council meeting, which one way or another is very important to the city! Some couldn't take the time to make it here and learn about on a item they have to act upon if they get elected!
Fred Eiger November 06, 2012 at 03:17 AM
That's right Justin. Did you get out there this weekend? I noticed a lot of Benny Lee signs around Guido's this weekend.
Justin H. November 06, 2012 at 03:22 AM
you can listen to it on audio smart guy:-) way to be informed! and yes Fred I did see alot of Benny signs!! and I say Put more up so we can get it right for our city and have either Hutch or Benny represent!!!
Marga Lacabe November 06, 2012 at 03:51 AM
So we know that Justin isn't there. How about the rest? Benny? Darlene? Do they even know about this?
Carlos J November 06, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Nope dont seem them here either. Yes you can listen...just hard to read the PPP via audio...
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