Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 18, 2011

Prove yourself

So one thing I failed to touch on in yesterday’s fact check of the East Bay Express article on Alameda is that the main thesis of the piece is flawed.

It sort of came up during the fact check around Dennis Evanvosky’s claim about the spirit of the Alameda charter and the supposition that Alameda has a “strong city manager” form of government, but let’s examine this further in light of the main thrust of the article, which was summed up in the subheader:

Some island residents worry that a new three–member council majority intends to undermine the city’s strong–city–manager form of government.

First of all, as I stated yesterday, this notion of a “strong-city-manager” form of government seems to have taken off during the Ann Marie Gallant regime as Interim City Manager.   Alameda has had the same form of government since the City Charter was written but at least during the Debra Kurita regime, you never heard anyone suggest that we had a “strong-city-manager” system in place.   As I wrote the other day:

The Council-Manager form of government is what we have.   The “strong” vs “weak” distinction only comes into play when one is discussing Mayor-Council forms of government to distinguish a “strong” mayor (one who is elected to be the executive branch of the City government, think Oakland or SF) or a “weak” mayor, one of many on a Council which acts as both the legislative and executive body.   According to Wikipedia, this form of government largely does not exist anymore except in really small towns.    The City Manager (be s/he strong or weak) depends on the personality type of the selected City Manager.   Not that it is some form of government that means that the City Manager is better than the Council, in the end, the elected City Council is still the “boss” of the City Manager.

It appears that the thesis that the perceived majority is attempting to circumvent the Council-Manager form of government is based on a misunderstanding of how the Council-Manager form of government works.  By the way since this new City Council has been seated I don’t believe that there has been split votes with the exception of both placing Ann Marie Gallant on paid administrative leave and deciding to give her notice that her contract would not be renewed in March, but it’s much sexier to go with a big bad majority block walking all over a itty bitty minority voice.   Everyone loves a David and Goliath story, right?

As I pointed out yesterday in response to this portion of the article quoting an Alameda Sun editor:

“They’re trying to make this into a strong-mayor government, but if you want to do that, change the charter,” said Sun editor Evanosky. “The spirit of the charter is not for the mayor to tell the city manager what to do and, you know what, if you don’t like what I say I’ll have my two friends on the council fire you.”

The Charter is very clear on this issue in section 2 – 2:

The following offices are hereby established and the incumbents thereof shall be appointed or removed by a vote of a majority of the full Council: City Manager, City Attorney, City Clerk.

With the exception of the action taken on December 28 — which even Dennis Evanvosky admitted:

“The reason for the closed-door meeting was legitimate,” said Dennis Evanovsky, editor of the Alameda Sun.

There is not one shred of evidence in the entire article or in any of the City Council, Community Improvement Commission, or Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Authority meetings that there is an attempt by anyone on the City Council, let alone Mayor Marie Gilmore, that she is “trying to make this into a strong-mayor government.”   Given that it is difficult enough for our volunteer City Council making less than $500 a month to sit for hours and hours on end during regular meetings, the notion that the Mayor wants to take on the duty of micromanaging the job of a $200K + position is absurd.

To take what was essentially two actions and conflate that into wanting to make Alameda into a “strong-mayor government” is overreaching.   And without evidence, the thesis fails.

To top this off, as someone else pointed out in the comments section, in light of what happened to Debra Kurita these new protestations about a “power grab” of a majority is really ironic.

And…in light of what occurred with the recent actions of the BART board — kinda big news that the EBX has been strangely quiet about — no one has suggested that the move to ask Dorothy Dugger to resign is a “power grab” or that the BART board is attempting to take over the position of General Manager.


  1. good morning whiner’s

    Comment by Dr.Poodlesmurf — February 18, 2011 @ 7:17 am

  2. Dense? I’d love to. What Lauren doesn’t get, or doesn’t know, is that the Council decides on the sort of government we will have in Alameda depending on the CM they hire. After a very strong Jim Flynt, they hired the softie Deb Kirita. When that turned out badly, they got rid of her and hired the power house Ann Marie Gallant

    The current CC majority will declare themselves one way or another by the CM THEY hire. Meet her or him in person at that welcoming reception and you should be able to tell within 30 seconds how strong that person is.

    If they want a weak City Manager, so they can make all the important decisions and call the shots, they will hire another dishrag, and go down that road at a time when some toughness, especially about budgets and redevelopment, is badly needed.

    If they choose a strong CM, no doubt Lauren will be frantic, as she was about AMG. Can’t wait to see how this turns out!

    Comment by Dennis Green — February 18, 2011 @ 8:55 am

  3. 2. That’s it in a nutshell.

    Comment by Jack Richard — February 18, 2011 @ 9:04 am

  4. Jack, I appreciate your humorous effort to lump me in with the regulars here — “Democrat who voted for Obama, leftie..” Nope. Registered Independent since 1968 with Libertarian leanings, even worked for Ron Paul. I think the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the War on Drugs are all massively invasive and obvious failures. Collect SS that I paid into, but think govmint generally is bloated and over-staffed, including the schools. I’ve worked in hospitals, so know reform should have started with cost reductions and Death Panels. Realist verging on cynicism around these folks.

    Comment by Dennis Green — February 18, 2011 @ 10:01 am

  5. Is the computer Hal from “2001: A Space Odyssey” looking for work? He had what it took to make the hard decisions.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — February 18, 2011 @ 10:14 am

  6. Daisy, Daisy, give your answer do! I’m half-crazy…how about it Denise?

    Comment by Dennis Green — February 18, 2011 @ 11:20 am

  7. Council sets policy and direction for the City. CM through the supervision of City Staff and Programs carries it out. The only thing that Flint did that was, to my mind “strong” was he was definitely not interested in citizen input, committees, volunteerism, commission work, etc. I once heard him say the equivalent of “I could run a darn fine City if it weren’t for all these citizens.”
    AMG seemed to me to feel the same way. The City staff was not to get too involved with the citizenry. She ran things, kept a lot close to her chest (even from the Council we are finding out) and made sure everyone towed the line.
    All of this is in the way of personality, not defined lines of authority and responsibility. It is the latter that makes for the definition of the “strong Mayor” or “strong CM” forms of government.
    It is correct to say that the CM choice mirrors the will of the Council – that is the way our charter is set up, but it is still the case that the Council sets policy and direction and the CM carries it out.

    Comment by Kate Quick — February 18, 2011 @ 12:11 pm

  8. 4
    “I appreciate your humorous effort to lump me in with the regulars here…”

    That was campaign rhetoric…didn’t mean it. But it worked.

    Gonna be a long weekend. Just finished “Marquez’s “Memories of My Melancholy Whores” Reminiscences at ninety. Can’t wait to read your’s.

    Comment by Jack Richard — February 18, 2011 @ 2:27 pm

  9. Jack, I’ve always been attracted to strong women, maybe why I like strong-willed CMs. Married my first wife at 21, number five on my 70th birthday, last September. She is Italian, Mexican and Mescalero Apache, 15 years younger.

    Some of the brightest, though, were too strong to stick around, like that Phi Beta Kappa editor in San Francisco.

    My read of local politics is that the elected ones are Ninnies, and without a strong CM, the City will be adrift again, as it was with Bev as Mayor and Deb as the CM. You pays your taxes, and you takes your chances!

    Comment by Dennis Green — February 18, 2011 @ 3:12 pm

  10. 8 Jack, you can’t wait? I think we’ve seen most of it all here a bazillion times already. Read Celine’s Death on the Installment Plan? He’s no poseur.

    I just read Krakauer’s Where Men Win Glory about Pat Tillman ( also the real deal) and thought of you.

    Comment by M.I. — February 18, 2011 @ 4:09 pm

  11. 10. wondered if you had read it or what you’d think about it, that is.

    Comment by M.I. — February 18, 2011 @ 4:10 pm

  12. 9. Wow Dennis, five! Sticking with the One (only one) I got. Going on 45 years. Saved my life from the dens of iniquity…mostly. You ought to read the latest Marquez book, though.

    I think you’re spot on with your local read.

    I doubt we’ve seen the writing here that would compare to what Dennis could write if he wanted to.

    I read Krakauer’s “Into the Wild” and I liked it but I haven’t read the Tillman thing. Doubt that I will. Shame what happened to Tillman but more of a shame what happened in the aftermath of his death.

    Comment by Jack Richard — February 18, 2011 @ 5:59 pm

  13. Gee, you guys make me feel like such a nit. I read scroundrel lit (Joe Abercrombie), cozies (Hazel Holt), and celebrity bios–latest was Russell Brand (blush). I get enough high brow stuff on Blogging Bayport ;). I was reading Shakespeare at 10 though, maybe I peaked too soon.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — February 18, 2011 @ 6:08 pm

  14. I mostly read history. That’s not highbrow. I keep all my lite reading on a kindle, less space. But history books, I’ve got to hold in my hands.

    Comment by Jack Richard — February 18, 2011 @ 6:49 pm

  15. I love my Kindle! I usually read history articles online, but I’d like to read Theodore Roosevelt’s “The Winning of the West.” Just haven’t gotten around to it.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — February 18, 2011 @ 6:59 pm

  16. Read Theodore Roosevelt’s “History of the United States” if you want a good read of TR’s non-politically correct opinion of all the icons of US history. He wrote it after he was President.

    Comment by Jack Richard — February 18, 2011 @ 7:13 pm

  17. By the way, my wife took over my kindle so I have to use this iPad for book reading from kindle. No comparison, for reading the kindle beats this thing by a mile. iPad’s too heavy.

    Comment by Jack Richard — February 18, 2011 @ 7:17 pm

  18. iPad’s great for reading in bed at three a.m. Without waking the Apache. I prefer its page turning effect too, but use the Kindle outdoors in sunlight.

    I can’t read Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” which I taught in ’67-73, too many times, especially the observations of The Fool. He disappears half way through the play, and I’m still wondering why. I downloaded the Collected Works of Shakespeare free on the iPad, as well as “Moby Dick” and “The King James Bible,” and go back and forth through them all.

    I do a lot of research on Wikipwdia as well, especially these days into Presidents McKinley and T.R., who were at serious odds over the Spanish-American War, a tragic and shameful episode in our history. McKinley the Man!

    Comment by Dennis Green — February 19, 2011 @ 9:35 am

  19. And we wonder why the Alameda Borders book store is closing. Kindles, EBook readers and tablets have replaced the need for the physical book store. Go to Amazon order your eletronic version or hard copy and even bypass the state tax. Though technically you are responsible for paying the sales tax, the State does not chase us yet.

    Comment by Mike McMahon — February 19, 2011 @ 10:40 am

  20. “.. a tragic and shameful episode in our history.” Without passing judgement by branding that period of time in US history, there were several significant outcomes from it that changed Spain, Cuba, Peurto Rico, this Country and the entire Pacific, It taught this young country many lessons (most soon forgotten).

    If you want to read a very good non-wiki account of the Spanish-American War and how the crumbling empire of Spain was replaced by the bumbling empire of the US, read “Empire by Default: The Dawn of the American Empire” by Ivan Musicant. I have the hardcopy if you want to borrow it…it’s not released on kindle.

    “I shall never get into a war,” President McKinley said just thirty-three days after the battleship Maine blew up in the harbor of Havana.

    Excerpt: “At the Washington press corp’s annual white-tie Gridiron Dinner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt snarled through horse teeth at Mark Hanna, ‘We will have this war for the freedom of Cuba in spite of the timidity of commercial interests.”

    Comment by Jack Richard — February 19, 2011 @ 10:47 am

  21. McKinley had fought in the Civil War, at Antetum, and seen the piles of corpses of war dead. T.R. was backed up by William Randolph Hearst and Woodrow Wilson in the burgeoning “Doctrine of Manifest Destiny,” the beginning of our Imperial Exceptionalism. Many black U.S. Troops slaughtered tribal peoples in the Philippines, one massacre and atrocity after another! Not a value judgment, just the facts M’ammy.

    Comment by Dennis Green — February 19, 2011 @ 10:58 am

  22. McKinley?! McKinley was the creation of kingmaker Mark Hanna, and big business, which profited enormously from American Empire. He made the key decision to keep the Philippines to civilize and bring religion to them whether they liked it or not. This cost the lives of 200,000 Filipinos.
    Ironically his tariff – the highest in our nation’s history destabilized the economies of Cuba and Hawaii making their occupation and acquisition easier. He was not the “man” only a corporate tool.

    Comment by believe it — February 19, 2011 @ 11:22 am

  23. It’s fun to see you guys fight about something significant for a change.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — February 19, 2011 @ 11:58 am

  24. Admiral Dewey’s Manila Bay Spanish fleet wipe-out finished off Spain in the Pacific. If we had left the PI after Manila Bay, it would have been invaded by another European country.

    Probably Germany, who was itching to take the PI and to secure the other Islands in the Pacific to use as coaling stations to feed their ships tending their empire further south Dewey knew it and fought it. Aguinaldo could not maintain independence for the Filipinos and Dewey knew it. So it became a question of us or them. God knows how many Filipinos would have died if them. But either way, the PI would not have been free as a result of the war.

    believe it or not

    Comment by Jack Richard — February 19, 2011 @ 12:01 pm

  25. I’m ready to believe almost anything Jack says. How about that explosion on the Maine? Boiler and ammo or a Spanish torpedo? And yeah, it’s fun to be fighting about something significant for a change. All I know about the PI is that they got screwed over big time, sort of like Iraq today.

    Comment by Dennis Green — February 19, 2011 @ 1:34 pm

  26. Four million refugees, over a hundred thousand killed, suicide attacks almost every day since the Surge, way more dead Iraquis since our invasion than ever died under Hussein. Just like we rescued the Phillipines. And they say the Military rules in Egypt!

    Comment by Dennis Green — February 19, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

  27. 25
    Ah yes, the explosion of the Maine. While the Maine was still burning, the Spanish Naval Command in Cuba received orders from Madrid “to gather every fact you can to prove that the Maine catastrophe cannot be attributed to us” and immediately formed their own court of inquiry. Next, the incident raised serious questions of international law. US ship, Spanish port who had jurisdiction over the inquiry if one was to occur? Us was not going to allow Spanish authorities jurisdiction initially then conceded and allowed Spanish to examine the wreck.

    Their verdict was an internal explosion but couldn’t be sure until divers examined the hull from the outside. Later when divers inspected the hull from the outside they found outward bulging and no ruptures in the double plated hull. So they came to the same conclusion as before.

    The US inquiry took place during the same time period and could not reach a decision but a shipboard accident was ruled out. So nobody knew what happened.

    From that point onward the political process in the United States worked its way to the inevitability of war. I war, I might add, that was the textbook example of an ill planned, ill executed, ill fought exercise that if Spain had not been the decrepit power it was, the US would have been totally defeated in the field of battle…my opinion. (on the seas though, though the US Navy had incomparable good luck, they performed exemplary)

    Postscript: After the war was over the US refused a Spanish request to reopen the Maine inquiry.

    Not ready for that one.

    Comment by Jack Richard — February 19, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

  28. 19. Hi Mike-
    Now through the wonders of Google ebooks you can order your books online through Books Inc Web site and pay sales tax to California, although the local part will not go to Alameda but SF Laurel Village I believe. Readable on any e-reader EXCEPT Kindle, as Amazon obviously doesn’t want the competition. Anyway, it is a way to support our local independent booksellers in what is the evolution from print to electronic. Diesel Books and Pegasus also have it.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — February 19, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

  29. 22
    While it’s true that towards the end of the nineteenth century, American industry was producing more than could be used domestically, it wasn’t until after the SP/A war that the US had an “Empire”. And clearing Spain out of the PI and Cuba et al didn’t open consumer markets for US good per se. but it did lead to expanded trade in the far east.

    McKinley waffled on the decision of what to do with the PI for a long time before he came to the decision you mentioned. And that decision came after he took and extended trip through the US and was convinced that the American people were in favor of keeping the PI under American control. (he didn’t poll the Filipino people, his belief was that they weren’t ready to be independent)

    You are most definitely right about the resulting cost to the Filipinos.

    Comment by Jack Richard — February 19, 2011 @ 4:52 pm

  30. You are right that Germany would have grabbed the islands, but McKinley wanted to prevent it, and civilize them and make a profit. The islands were a gateway to China (it’s main importance). You forget that Carnegie offered to buy the islands for $20 million and give them to the Filipinos to avoid American imperialism. Instead McKinley waged war at a cost of $400 million. I guess we really wanted those navy bases… by the way, when Leon Czlgoz shot McKinley he said he did it because McKinley was “an enemy of the people.”. Happy Presidents Day.

    Comment by believe it — February 21, 2011 @ 8:46 am

  31. 30
    Since LD is taking the day off and the A squabbling is getting boring it’s a good time to continue this discussion.

    I stated above that Dewey was concerned about Germany’s intentions, but Germany was just one of several concerns Dewey had with keeping what he had won.

    First, Dewey had no ground forces to speak of and though Cavite (where the Spanish fleet had been defeated) area was firmly in the hands of his fleet, Manila was not and Manila was where the power lay (I was lucky to spend quite a bit of time in and the around Cavite [Sangley Point] during the 1960’s and, even at that time, Manila was a hassle getting to). Dewey could not take Manila or any other part of the PI absent ground forces. So the most he could do was blockade Manila until if and when American ground forces arrived.

    Later, Dewey requested the War Department send 5,000 troops and he estimated the Spanish forces holding Manila at 10,000. These numbers are significant because it shows that Dewey had no intention of expanding the US role beyond Manila Bay.

    Second, Dewey had no supply line from CONUS and he was rapidly running out of stores, including the ammunition that was consumed during the battle. Plus, both the Cavite area and Manila were running out of food and could not be supplied. Winning a battle always leads to ancillary problems.

    Third, Dewey received notice that Spain had dispatched a naval force to the PI in order to break the blockade, which included a battleship that could outgun Dewey’s forces. In response, the US sent a monitor (of Civil War fame) to counter the Spanish battleship and it became a race from the west coast of the United States, on one side of the globe and the Suez canal on the other side.

    And Fourth…most significantly, there was the native insurgency, led by Emilio Aguinaldo, that the Americans (not surprisingly) were woefully ignorant of and in the long run led to the turmoil that you refer to.

    I’m not familiar with the Carnegie offer but I think the US ended up paying Spain in the neighborhood of 100 mil for their Pacific possessions. Regardless, had a private group bought the Islands to give to the Filipinos, a European power (or possibly Japan) would have soon taken the Islands.

    Comment by Jack Richard — February 21, 2011 @ 10:13 am

  32. 18
    Wikipedia research makes me think of a cow pasture.

    The greenest newest grass grows out of cow shit and attracts those cows looking for a quick bite. The real sustaining stuff, the stuff that makes the best milk and the most cream is the low, close to the ground grass the cow must work for, then recycle through her four stomachs and chew on before deriving any benefit.

    Comment by Jack Richard — February 21, 2011 @ 12:36 pm

  33. 19 – hey Mike, so where is AUSD on this common digital book movement? We, the parcel tax payers paid to have the digital classroom all the way to K-5. Why is it not being used? Why are kids hauling 30 pounds of books all the time and parents unable to get teachers to use School Loop even tho admin defends low achieving schools because of the home situation of the students at those schools? What do you expect of parents who can’t get SL info because teachers don’t use the system we bought for them and the students’ families?

    Comment by Hey-on-A — February 21, 2011 @ 5:57 pm

  34. did you know that Aguinaldo collaborated with the Japanese and was arrested after the war?

    Comment by believe it — February 21, 2011 @ 8:27 pm

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