I don’t even know where to begin, so I’m going to start with:
OMG, that City Council meeting was probably the best City Council meeting I have ever watched.
From a pure entertainment and content perspective it delivered. And it delivered big time. I can’t even express to you how much awesome was contained in this, five, six hour meeting. I haven’t even made it all the way through and it has become my all time favorite tv show episode ever. And I just watched the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills where Lisa Rinna just broke a glass after Kim Richards vaguely threatened to spill some secret about Lisa Rinna’s family. Yeah, the City Council meeting was better than that.
I’m just going to take one moment at a time, because each moment deserves its own special place in the spotlight.
Because narrative cannot alone show you how great it was. Video. Annotated and I boosted the audio in one section for you. You’re welcome.
The Planning Board and Transportation Commission joint meeting lasted about four hours, which was not surprising in the slightest since there were a lot of big issues on the agenda. I’m going to go through some of the more interesting things in another post but thought I would pick on Mayor Trish Spencer again. Only because she makes it so easy to do so.
Now, I don’t begrudge any new elected official from coming to meetings and sitting there to learn about all the nuances that they missed from not paying attention before they were elected. But it’s when those elected officials feel the need to add in their two cents, even as an “individual citizen” that’s when things get a little murky. As Kate Q. pointed out in the comments section, the lines get blurred when an advisory group to a sitting elected body is told by someone on that elected body what their opinions are as a “private citizen.” You can spin the whole “private citizen” any which way you want but the fact is that that private citizen who also has the word “Mayor” tacked in front of her name has a lot more pull than someone who doesn’t.
Tonight the City Council will be meeting in closed session to determine what to do about filling the position of City Manager. I’m hoping that, whatever happens, that the City Council doesn’t end up — in grand Alameda fashion — to appoint a “weaker” City Manager that would be easier to “control” so to speak. There’s a lot of micromanaging happening on the City Council level already, without some measure of push back it could get even worse.
Anyway, as usual, some big agenda items scheduled for tonight. I’m going to guess that this ends up being a late meeting as well. First up is approving a 60 year lease with WETA (Water Emergency Transportation Agency) aka ferries for their operations and maintenance facility. According to the staff report this will be the first new construction at the base:
The Facility will include a 4-story building, diesel fuel storage tanks, upland work yard, and a 12-slip ferry berthing facility extending from the site shoreline into San Francisco Bay. The total project cost is estimated to be between $45 and $50 million including environmental, design, construction, mitigation, shop outfitting, construction management and support activities, which includes approximately $35 million for construction activities.
The facility will function as the Operations and Control Center and Emergency Operations Center for WETA’s central San Francisco Bay ferry fleet. The project includes dredging, approximately 25,000 square foot structure on land, construction of approximately 20,000 square foot marine facility over water and the associated infrastructure. Additionally, the project will include a realignment of the bay trail, improvements to the waterfront part and street/sidewalk improvements. The project site for the proposed facility is located southeast of the intersection of West Hornet Avenue and Ferry Point Road near Pier 3 on property owned by the City of Alameda. The site includes 0.73 acre of undeveloped upland real property, 3.4 acres of submerged lands on San Francisco Bay, and a 75-vehicle paved parking area
Wow, when I read the contemporaneous Twitter commentary about Monday’s Planning Board meeting, I thought they were amusing but I didn’t expect what actually happened.
Here’s the thing. I can cut people some slack for not knowing various things about City Government when they haven’t been paying attention closely when they have been occupied by other things. But what I do have an issue with is not knowing the details of something but then going up and giving your opinion about an issue — ostensibly as a “private citizen” — and revealing that you have no idea what the hell has been happening in this City before you took office.
Sometimes you have great spokepeople for a group or a product. Like people who really do an excellent job of representing the product and/or group that they are pushing. Like the two guys that do those All State commercials. One is now on the show Backstrom and every time he appears on the screen I expect him to say “That’s Allstate’s stand.”
Anyway, sometimes there are times when a spokeperson is so bad, even if they are doing it on a strictly volunteer basis, that the organization should say, “thanks but no thanks.”
Case in point: Bill Smith. I’ve not been pleased with some of Bill Smith’s inconsistent positions in the past. Particularly around the whole Housing Element and Neptune Point things. I don’t need to rehash that do I, it’s somewhere in the comments section. But at Monday night’s Planning Board meeting, this was when I realized that Renewed Hope really needs to have someone else represent their position on multi-family housing at these public meetings.
Here’s the video:
Surprising absolutely nobody came the news that the School Board voted on Tuesday night to retain two high schools as opposed to any sort of consolidation plan. What is more interesting is apparently there will be a priority to start erecting fences around the fenceless elementary schools around Alameda.
After some recent police action at both Bay Farm (vandalism) and Edison (stranger danger) the safety at schools has become an issue, again.
While I can understand the visceral desire to fence in a school thinking that will make a school “safe,” I will say that if I were dictator of my children’s school one of the first things I would do would be to remove the fence that was erected after the unfortunate incident at Ruby Bridges.
Tonight’s meeting, as I mentioned yesterday, will be a big one. Two of the agenda items I wrote about yesterday, the other two, just as big are scheduled for this massive joint meeting between the Transportation Commission and Planning Board. The meeting was also noticed as one where, potentially, the entire City Council should show up to. Trish Spencer has been showing up everywhere lately, including the Planning Board’s regular meeting on Monday night.
I thought these tweets were particularly entertaining about Trish Spencer’s appearance at said Planning Board meeting:
If you are concerned about traffic and/or transportation at all if there is one meeting that you should go to it’s the joint Planning Board and Transportation Commission meeting on Wednesday night. That meeting is positively jam packed with key transportation issues moving forward. Including Tony Daysog’s super incredible uber packed Transportation extravaganza plan. That will cost, approximately, between $250K – $400K to implement. The number is higher the more times it has to be vetted by the Boards and Commissions. And it will take around 12 – 18 months to actual happen.
The city did stick this slide into its presentation:
As you can guess, the agenda item about the Council Referral process did not go smoothly and honestly, I found the discussion hilarious and entertaining from a spectator point of view. As a reminder, Councilmember Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft placed — as a Council Referral — a suggestion that the City Council start abiding by the Council Referral process that was approved and adopted in 2007. Essentially what the ordinance says is that all members of the City Council need to go through the Council Referral process if they would like to place something on the City Council agenda. Yes, even the Mayor would need to.
The point is to treat all members of the City Council as equals (one voice, one vote) — even though the Mayor technically runs the meetings and gets to do things like pick assignments to regional boards — they are still pretty much “equals” in terms of their weight on the City Council.
It’s official, John Russo is moving on and it looks like although he is moving on down to Southern California he’s also getting a much more plush gig than Alameda. From a press release by the City of Riverside:
Russo will take over the job from Interim City Manager Lee C. McDougal, who has served since former City Manager Scott Barber retired Dec. 28. Russo will be introduced to the Riverside community at a City Council meeting Tuesday (2/24) at 1 p.m. in the council chambers, 3900 Main Street. He expects to conclude his responsibilities in Alameda and join Riverside May 4.
I found a cached version of the search documents for the Riverside City Manager job. Here’s “The Opportunity”
The award winning City of Riverside, California (population 303,871) isrecruiting nationally for a City Manager with a highly successful career and a demonstrated record of inclusive and transparent leadership inguiding an organization. Working with the Mayor and a 7-member City Council, the City Manager oversees a capable staff of approximately 2,497 with a 2014/15 operating budget of approximately $915 million.The ideal candidate will have excellent leadership, communication,and decision making skills, and be a person of superior integrity and unquestionable ethics. The ideal candidate will be a highly skilled public administrator eager to contribute his or her creative and insightful leadership to help shape the future of this unique community with an outstanding quality of life.
Going from a city of 75,000 to 303,000! That’s quite the leap. And now he has seven City Council members (plus one Mayor) to keep happy as opposed to only five. As an aside Riverside has a “ward” system where the individual City Council members are elected by their ward and the Mayor is elected citywide.