Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 18, 2012

I’m coming out

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Election — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

So, it appears that Doug deHaan has come out —  so to speak — and has fully endorsed a “no” position on Measure C.   Of course this appears to be a big change in his position when he voted for putting Measure C on the ballot.   This ad ran in the paper version of the Alameda Sun yesterday.   As an aside, I hope that Doug deHaan and the anti-Measure C campaign, which I heard is being run by Gretchen Lipow, will be filing all the necessary campaign expenditure reports since both Gretchen Lipow and Doug deHaan have taken the Council majority to task for not moving forward with the Campaign Finance Reform ordinance in the middle of an election season.

I’m just saying, I haven’t noticed an FPPC number on the No on C signs and one would think that folks super concerned about Campaign reform would cross every t and dot every i when it came to being open about disclosures.

Anyway, one of the things that I found interesting about the deHaan piece was something under the “Other Concerns”  about the Public/Private Partnerships.

The weirdness about that “concern” was the the “concern” appeared to be that the City had yet to identify who the private partner would be in the public/private partnership and that it had not yet been discussed at the City Council level.  Also there is a rhetorical question put out into the ether as a part of this section which asks:

Do the proposed partners have the funds and ability to manage the projects and fulfill the complex operational commitments?

So let’s think about the capital projects that would require public/private partnerships.  (1) The swimming pool, (2) the all-weather lighted sports fields, and (3) Alameda Museum to the Carnegie.

So the Alameda Museum is a given who the partnership would be with, so either Doug deHaan has no faith that the Museum would be able to “fulfill the complex operational commitments” and has completed dissed the Musuem community or he actually believes that there is some organization other than the Alameda Museum that would move the Alameda Museum into the Carnegie.

The other two possible partners for the swimming pools and the sports fields are pretty obvious and Doug deHaan should be more than aware of who those potential partners would be.  The fact that he is questioning the viability of two organization who probably know better than the City how to run  pools and sports fields.

The sort of biggest message that this critique of the public/private partnership sends is that there is something wrong about a public/private partnership that readers should be suspicious about.  The irony of this critique is that Doug deHaan was falling all over himself when the City Council finally handed over responsibility of running the Animal Shelter to the Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter (FAAS).   Even after the discussion was over and the vote was taken Doug deHaan mentioned that he was looking forward to the partnership and impressed with the efforts.  A vastly different message about public/private partnerships than the one he is sending now.


  1. Great job Doug and Gretchen

    Comment by Dr Poodlesmurf — May 18, 2012 @ 6:52 am

  2. From the ad:

    “The general consensus is that Alameda High School’s (AHS) Emma Hood Swim Center is in fair condition, but needs repair…”

    That’s the biggest crock I’ve ever seen printed in an Alameda paper and that’s saying a lot!!

    Comment by Jack B. — May 18, 2012 @ 7:15 am

  3. This video shows the sort of disrepair the Emma Hood Swim Center is in, it’s pretty much being held up with chewing gum and duct tape:

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 18, 2012 @ 7:25 am

  4. Emma Hood is disgusting and so is the EHS pool. And we are pretty sure there is an irreparable leak underneath the diving well at Emma. Never mind that the sizes/dimensions of pools don’t meet regulation for water polo or swimming (not deep enough for diving.) The 7 acres requirement is also blatantly false — can be done in 3 acres. I could go on.

    Comment by Jack B. — May 18, 2012 @ 7:29 am

  5. And while the city is promising all these amenities in return for taxpayer’s dollars, opponents state that Measure C contains no guarantees. Milking Alameda points to the exact wording in the measure to back up this point: “The city council may choose not to pursue any particular project listed among these examples, may substitute unidentified but similar project to those listed.”

    Can somebody clarify the part about Council substituting unidentified projects?

    Comment by alameda — May 18, 2012 @ 7:31 am

  6. Alameda, I don’t know if you’ll find this completely satisfying but in terms of pools, what I understand this to mean is: instead of a 50m pool, we (public/private partnership) might decide to build a complex of smaller pools if it’s determined they a) better serve the whole community; and b) are more economical for ongoing operations.

    Comment by Jack B. — May 18, 2012 @ 7:35 am

  7. It looks like the success or failure of the measure is going to hinge on the mechanism, not the actual amount of money that residents are being asked to pay. And by the way, I haven’t heard anyone give a guesstimate of what the average taxable spending in Alameda by Alameda residents is. If it’s, say, $20,000, then we would pay an extra $100 a year.

    Anyway, back to mechanism. Other cities have been mentioned that have sales taxes. What do we know about those sales taxes? Are they for 30 years? What does their mechanism for spending the money look like compared to Measure C?

    Re: Public/private partnerships. The difference between the Animal Shelter deal and the ones proposed in Measure C is that the Animal Shelter deal came before the city council and had plenty of review before being approved. With the Measure C public/private partnerships it sounds like we are agreeing to agree on something. And if for some reason those partnerships don’t work out, then what? We can’t unwind the ballot measure once the bonds are issued.

    I’m willing to pay for a pool that I will never use, and sports fields, and all the other items listed (which will not get built anytime soon by doing budget cuts), but I think it’s a fair question about how this measure will be implemented. I think there are a significant number of voters in the “on the fence” category that could tip this vote either way, and they’re not on the fence because of the money.

    Comment by Richard Bangert — May 18, 2012 @ 7:39 am

  8. Those are fair comments, Richard. (unlike the blatantly false information from the Anti-C crowd.)

    Comment by Jack B. — May 18, 2012 @ 7:42 am

  9. Alameda: that actually came out as a part of the lawsuit filed by opponents to Measure C to attempt to get Measure C kicked from the ballot. In response the Judge ruled that:

    The Court finds that including this provision makes it neither false nor misleading as it limits the Council’s discretion to “similar projects for those listed” and expenditures that are “consistent with the general categories of projects listed in this section.” Thus, it does not give the City Council unfettered discretion as to projects upon which to spend these funds.

    I read this to mean, there is some flexibility as to the eventual built project, but it will meet the categories defined in the measure. As Jack B. suggested, it may not be able to be build a full fledged swimming complex, but something comparable.

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 18, 2012 @ 7:46 am

  10. I’ll point out that the new Countywide Measure B sales tax bump is also asking for a 30 year term.

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 18, 2012 @ 7:50 am

  11. As I recall from the CC meetings, the sales tax increase will generate $1.8 million a year in additional sales tax revenue. Some portion will paid by out of town residents who visit Alameda. If you assume no visitors then each Alameda resident will pay on average approximately $24 a year in additional sales tax.

    Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — May 18, 2012 @ 7:55 am

  12. $24/year? In this wretched economy? THAT’S TOO MUCH!!

    Comment by Jack B. — May 18, 2012 @ 7:59 am

  13. Each public/private partnership would have to be based upon a lease/operating agreement. Accordingly, the terms of that lease would have to be discussed in a fully noticed meeting of the Council and voted by the Council. This vote would require 4 Councilmembers to be in the affirmative.

    To answer Richard’s excellent question: if the public/private partnership model doesn’t work out for any given reason, the City has many other options. Specifically, as to the pool: the $5M that has been proposed by staff would completely build us a new pool with locker rooms and showers. The contemplated partnership with the swim community is to build an entire pool complex with warm water therapy pool, diving pool, slides, etc. If the partnership doesn’t come to fruition, we still have a new pool to replace Emma Hood on the current model of operation.

    Likewise for the new multipurpose ballfield. There is enough money set aside in staff’s proposal to build the actual turf field. If the partnership doesn’t work for some reason, there won’t be bathrooms and lights–unless and until the City can figure out a different way to finance those improvements.

    As for the Carnegie: the electrical, plumbing, and disability access work that needs to be done to the building are required for any future use to which the building would be put. In this case, the failure of the proposed partnership with the Museum would be disappointing but it would not change the nature of the work the building needs.

    Opponents of Measure C have constructed a Catch 22 for the City. They say, “we won’t vote for this because you can’t tell us all the precise details of each project”, but the City can’t know the precise details of some of these projects (e.g., the Carnegie, et al.) until the project is begun, and the project can’t start until we have the resources. For example, the City is not going to waste limited resources and start tearing up the Carnegie’s interior unless there is money for renovation available.

    There is contingency money built into the contemplated bond projects and staff believes that we have been exceedingly conservative with our financial structure. Measure C has been structured to allow Alameda taxpayers some flexibility in the event of an unforseen condition (e.g., lead problems for abatement at playing field, or asbestos at the Carnegie). We have no reason to believe those conditions exist but we are prepared on the off chance they do. Opponents of the Measure use this honesty and flexibility to try to have people believe that the City can and will do anything with the money. They are appealing to cynicism and fear. Judge Grillo put the lie to their contention that the City can divert the funds, and that case is now closed. Measure C has been put together in a way that will insure that all promises are kept and no false promises are made. What positive, legally achievable steps do opponents propose for addressing the City’s infrastructure crisis?

    Hope this helps.

    John Russo

    Comment by John Russo — May 18, 2012 @ 8:45 am

  14. I’m with JackB. and the city manager on this one. At some point we have to trust our city government, naturally we have to also ask the right questions. Sadly I’m starting to see a Tea Party mentality by many in this city. Starving gov. and being against any and all taxes won’t get us very far. I also appreciate our City Treasurer, and City Auditor studying this measure and coming out in favor of it. I trust them.

    Comment by John P. — May 18, 2012 @ 9:28 am

  15. It’s interesting that deHaan isn’t asking the same questions on the city staff proposal at Alameda Point to borrow $5M to decide if we can “entitle it and they will come,” with no one paying for the $774M in infrastructure costs. Where are the public/private partnerships and mechanisms in that case?

    Comment by BarbaraK — May 18, 2012 @ 10:00 am

  16. Come on folks, after the staff work done on the land swap and the golf course you are now falling for a TRUST ME vote……like they know better??? Seems more people need to come out of the closet on this measure.

    Comment by JLS — May 18, 2012 @ 10:17 am

  17. I’m certainly in favor of all the proposed improvements, especially if the sales tax increase doesn’t amount to much in the average citizen’s overall budget, however, I don’t see any way Measure C will pass. The sins of the fathers (promises made and broken–at least in the minds of voters–attached to past tax increases) will be visited on Measure C. We okay’d the extra tax for Alameda Hospital and it’s still in crisis. We okay’d the parcel tax for schools and the School Board’s bungling of the situation with Vital has not only voters, but the teachers who stumped for it up in arms. Did any good come out of these increases? Sure, but that’s not what’s been in the news. The golf course issue convinced everybody else that City Hall was out of touch with the voters and only backed down at the last minute when it was obvious that a “yes” vote on that deal was political suicide. Now come the allegations that the City told a few too many little white lies on its application for the grant to redesign an intersection on Gibbbons that everybody else pretty much agreed did not need to be redesigned. Too many Alamedans now have the chorus of “We Won’t Get Fooled Again” lodged in their brains. Perception is key. Reality has very little to do with it. Measure C doesn’t have a prayer.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 18, 2012 @ 10:21 am

  18. 13. Mr. Russo,the East Bay Miracle League has been trying for years to build a playing field suitable for all Alamedans, no matter what their abilities or disabilities. Should Measure C pass, will you commit to seeing that the “all weather multipurpose sports field” is configured such that all Alamedans, including those with disabilities, can play on it? If/when the VA builds their facility at Alameda Pointe, this field could also be used by our disabled Vets so that they can also participate in sports.

    Comment by Not. A. Alamedan — May 18, 2012 @ 10:29 am

  19. #16 JLS – I think I can put more trust in the city than the folks who are buying ads that say: “The general consensus is that Alameda High School’s (AHS) Emma Hood Swim Center is in fair condition, but needs repair…”

    I mean COME ON. Find me one single swimmer (there are hundreds) that would agree to that!

    Comment by Jack B. — May 18, 2012 @ 10:45 am

  20. John Russo:

    The central problem in the city’s finances is the public safety contracts eating an ever larger portion of the budget. Parks, public works and other departments have endured significant cuts, while police & fire get fatter every year. That is the reason there is no money for a pool, etc. Rightsize their compensation, especially their very rich benefits (benefits enjoyed by almost none of the taxpayers, by the way) and Measure C is no longer necessary.

    Of course, that would require a council that isn’t owned by the IAFF….

    Comment by Jack Schultz — May 18, 2012 @ 11:41 am

  21. 17. Denise, you mentioned the parcel tax. Some people have a expectation of “happily ever after” once a measure passes. Unfortunately life is not like that. There will be bumps in the road. The AUSD board will adjust accordingly otherwise they will get voted out and replaced. That’s democracy in action.

    Our elected and appointed leaders are not all-knowing and they do make bad decisions like you and me. The public meetings are opportunities for “we the people” to give feedback, and colla-“berate”.

    There are people who are easily swayed by sound bites and catchy one-liners. Hopefully educated voters with critical thinking skills will weigh the arguments, consider the endorsers and vote on June 5th.

    As Facebook’s IPO is today. Another aspect is how well proponents/opponents use social media to get their message out. Mr Russo commenting on this blog shows that he “gets it”. Craft the message or somebody else will. He’s a savvy communicator with a sense of humor to boot ( )

    Comment by medablog — May 18, 2012 @ 12:16 pm

  22. Like the Alameda Theater, I’m afraid Doug DeHaan will want to take credit for all the positive things that Measure C will do for our community, but we will remember that he changed his mind after he voted for it.

    It’s unfortunate that folks are choosing to link this sales tax measure with their issues with police and fire salaries. Remember both the City Auditor and the City Treasurer have concerns with police and fire salaries as well – but they came out in support of this measure. Why? Most likely because they understand the importance of this measure, and they chose to put “Community First”.

    Finally, we need to make sure we don’t compare this sales tax measure with the parcel taxes that were previously passed. To put this in perspective – a $20 purchase at Target will cost you an additional 10 cents – a small price to pay for what we will be getting in return.

    I say put Community First and Vote Yes on Measure C!

    Comment by Karen Bey — May 18, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

  23. I don’t get the golf swap example. It appears to be a shining example that the systems we have work. There was an idea, encouragement of exploration, discussion and a decision. The council didn’t ignore the community, they responded appropriately. It’s exactly how the system is suppose to work.

    While I agreed with the majority in being against the swap, I don’t think that you can fault the council for the storm of baseless accusations and assumptions that were included in the opposition to the swap, and I wish that people had spent a little more time understanding what was happening so that they could have realized months earlier that the swap was a dead-deal.

    If anything, the swap issue, contentious as it became, is an example of how there are effective checks and balances in the system to ensure a solid outcome on the building of pools and soccer fields.

    Comment by jkw — May 18, 2012 @ 1:00 pm

  24. For jkw: Your statement would be correct except the the staff seens to have their own agenda and passes that on to the council. Do the citizens of Alameda need to give this city government an open check book ???? The results of measure C will decide.

    Comment by JLS — May 18, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

  25. Would that those of us who worked actively against the swap until the not-so-bitter end have had the wisdom of Mr. White and “realized months earlier” that it was a “dead-deal.” We would have spared ourselves a lot of time and effort. But I guess the one who really deserves sympathy for being so uninformed is Ron Cowan, who spent a ton of money on his campaign in support of the swap, including a last-minute mass mailing and email barrage, that he could have saved had he consulted the cognoscenti.

    Comment by Robert Sullwold — May 18, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

  26. Except that the outcome is neither an “open check book” or staff getting their own way.

    Two years ago, the voters voted to support a council that did take control of a staff that was out of control. I’d say they have seen that they got what was promised.

    With Measure C, 2/3 is a high hurdle. It gives a small minority (1/3 +1 of voters) veto power. The likely outcome of Measure C (no matter the result) is that over 1/2 of voters will vote “i trust” in the election. Even if Measure C does not clear the super-majority hurdle, it will likely show (yet again) trust in the current council.

    Comment by jkw — May 18, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

  27. I’m not sure where the open check book comes in — the measure spells out which projects will be funded and how much, and there are audit requirements built into the measure to ensure that the community gets what was promised.

    Comment by Karen Bey — May 18, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

  28. Robert,

    There’s a difference between being vigilant on an issue and spending five months vilifying people with baseless accusations. With the swap both occurred by different individuals and groups.

    My comment was related to the latter, the folks who went to town with character assassinations around the issue, not the folks who worked to ensure, in the face of the Cowan onslaught, that the swap well and truly died.

    If my comment was written so broadly as to be construed as covering each and every person who kept the pressure up on stopping the swap, I would have to be included in that. It’s my hope that respectful stalwarts against the swap who showed passion without vitriol, can understand the difference and realize that my comment was a response to anonymous and not so anonymous comments about how the swap went down.

    In the end, the community spoke, the council listened and responded and most were happy. The process, while certainly longer than it should have been, worked.

    I was responding to the idea that the swap somehow exposed some deep dark conniving corruption that was only thwarted through community coercion, a theme of a couple of previous comments, when in fact long before many of the myths around the swap even started circulation, the writing was on the wall:

    Comment by jkw — May 18, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

  29. 24. There are staff and staff, i.e. public works has staff working on stuff like Gibbons and Economic Development and planning have staff. should the two be lumped together?

    Comment by M.I. — May 18, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

  30. I failed to connect a dot, Economic development works on the Point while Public works does projects like Gibbons. There are different pots of state and federal money for all this stuff too.

    Comment by M.I. — May 18, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

  31. John there will always be ‘myths’ on every issue. The distressing part for me is that all the diverse people who represent any issuse tend to be profiled as part of the extreme element. I’ve seem it with MIF and also with the people gathering signatures for ‘the loophole’. It is elitist. I have always loved living here but when I see ‘our prominent citizens’ making snobby remarks about others it really just sucks. And really that is what the blog is mostly about.

    City Staff and CC have spent SO MUCH time this year on MIF and the damn trees. Here we have Measure C and it is rushed to the Ballot with very little explanation. To me it reflects a lack of profwessioalism. DSo ‘everybody’ knew the MIF was dead. Really if Measure C fails the blame is on the CM and the CC for not selling it before the Measure was put on the Ballot.

    Comment by frank — May 18, 2012 @ 5:30 pm

  32. I would venture to guess that the average voter would be hard pressed to name the members of the city council let alone what issues they have featured prominently in and what side they were on. Most voters do not have a clear idea of which agency is in charge of what. My blood boils every time I see a Rob Bonta lawn sign because I voted for him because I thought he wanted to serve on the council and we desparately needed a fresh perspective. It took only a heart beat after the election to realize that we were only a stepping stone in a fast track plan to further his political career. I didn’t expect him to devote his life to the Alameda City Council, but a single term would have been nice. Anything less is just insulting to those who put you in place. Yes, my blood boils, but I am not the typical voter and neither are most of the people who comment on this blog. Most Alameda voters see the lawn sign and then the ballot and say to themselves “Rob Bonta. I’ve heard of him. He’s from Alameda. I never heard of these other guys. I’ll vote for him.” JKW is wrong to assume that the outcome of the Measure C vote is an accurate indicator of faith in the current council. It will only indicate which side did a better job of convincing voters of their position. I expect Kate and Jon will take me to task now saying that’s not true. Alameda voters are well informed and weigh their votes carefully, at least everyone I know, they’ll tell me. Consider that the only people who you are likely to engage in such a discussion are those who are well-informed. Everybody else stares blankly or changes the subject when the issue arises. The desire to vote is a lot stronger than the desire to vote responsibly. Few really do their homework. It’s more of a crap shoot than many of us realize.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 20, 2012 @ 7:29 am

  33. Everyone I talk to feels like I do that the Mayor and the city council is doing a good job. Most people I know are busy working and raising their families and they don’t make it out to the city council meetings much. Because they have young children, they see the sales tax as a direct benefit for their young families: pools, libraries, museum, sports fields, etc. They care deeply about things like parks, pools, trees (Park Street) and dogs (Animal Shelter), and the overall quality of life for themselves and their families. They work very hard all week – and when they come home they want to live in a community that serves them and their families.

    You’re right Denise – they may not be able to name the names of the city council members, but as long as the Mayor and city council continues to work towards improving the quality of life for Alamedans, I think they will do just fine.

    Creating more transparency, working on solving our budget issues, creating a thriving downtown, major improvements to Webster Street, negotiated a no cost conveyance for Alameda Point, supporting and approving a sales tax measure that will help pay for community benefits like pools, libraries, museum, and sport fields, moving forward with the development of Target at Alameda Landing, selecting a permanent operator for the golf complex — these are just a few of the accomplishments made by this Mayor and council, during a struggling economy, and there’s more.

    Yes, there’s a lot more work to do — let’s remember they have only been in office for two years. I look forward to the next two years – and yes Denise, I like many in this community do have faith in this council to work hard for our community and to continue to improve the quality of life for all Alamedans.

    Comment by Karen Bey — May 21, 2012 @ 7:37 am

  34. #32. Oh, dear Denise, you are so wrong to believe that I would “take you to task” because I believe Alameda voters are well informed and weigh their votes carefully. I have been an active member of the League of Women Voters for a very long time and one thing that is easily learned from that experience is that many voters are fairly unaware of the consequences of their votes. That is why we present a lot of information, in forums and on our website to help them to make an informed voting decision. When we do our pros and cons, we balance the information so that the voters can decide for themselves based on the facts and the impacts. We also do advocacy, when we have a studied position to base an opinion on, but we keep our advocacy and our voter information separate. There are those who vote in self-interest; those who vote knee jerk (oh, he/she is of my party, I’ll vote for him/her!) and those who vote because they like a name or are attracted by the title of a ballot measure.

    I, too, was disappointed by Rob’s decision to go for the legislature before he had finished a term. I understand why he did it – timing – no incumbent running this time, but as much as I think he will be a gifted legislator in the State arena, I would like him to be on our Council. So I told him how I felt and he listened. I decided to support him after we spoke.

    By the way, League, as an organization and League leaders, like the President and the Voter Service chair, are not allowed to endorse candidates, so my endorsement of Rob has nothing to do with the League work, but me, acting as an individual (I am not in a position which would enjoin me from supporting a candidate as an individual.) I hope that every voter reads the materials, goes to and looks up candidate and issue information posted there, talks to others and makes up his/her mind in an informed way. Some will; some won’t. It is not quite a “crap shoot” as you stated, but let’s all keep trying to get our opinions out there and keep it factual to help our friends and neighbors vote, and vote in an informed manner.

    In general I believe that most people do not like extremes, and that voters get nervous when things swing dramatically left or right – they bring things back to the middle, usually. They may reach for the “shiny object” in one election, but at the next one, based on what happened, they return to where they are more comfy. I recall that our first library bond attempt failed and people realized that a new library would not be possible without a bond and it passed the second time out. Some of the same folks who were insisting that the first bond was a terrible idea and that the proponents of a new library were really wanting to tear down the Carnegie, love the new library and realize what a good decision that was. The world turns.

    Comment by Kate Quick, — May 21, 2012 @ 7:46 am

  35. Karen Bey spreading misinfo again. Only Bonta has been in office for 2 years-& obviously wants out. Tam & Gilmore have been in Alameda office for many years. What have they learned?
    The East Bay Express recommends voting NO on Measure C.

    Comment by vigi — May 21, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

  36. I should also mention that they want to see strong leadership and they want a city council that can work together and govern. The last thing they want to see is dysfunction, and ineffectiveness in our local government. To simply be the party of “no” doesn’t cut it – they want the council to work together and get things done.

    They also don’t mind passing a parcel tax to improve our schools if that’s what it accomplishes, and they don’t mind paying a little bit more for services – if they get what they pay for. Those with kids are involved in just about every sport you can imagine —- so community benefits like pools, sports fields, etc. means a lot to them, so they don’t mind passing a sales tax measure if that’s what it takes to expand the quality of life for their families.

    They will measure the success of this administration by what they get accomplished. They’re success is our success, so I can’t imagine anyone wishing anything but the best for our city, our Mayor and our city council.

    Comment by Karen Bey — May 21, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

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