Blogging Bayport Alameda

August 6, 2013

Kate Quick: Announcing An Engagement Which May Lead to Marriage

Filed under: Alameda, Guest blogging — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

Recent postings on this site and attending or watching from home City Council and School Board meetings have led me to ponder why people, at the last possible minute, having bypassed other advertised meetings, written information, invitations to participate in decision making, suddenly arrive at a public body with the loud cry “Why were we not told!” Most of the time, they have had access to information for weeks or even months before but were not engaged in the community enough to read the local papers, look at postings on the web, or go to meetings.

Then, someone who is “engaged” tells them that there is an issue that may affect them and they need to rally ‘round the cause and “do something about it!” And so they join in and show up and are angry and distressed that some civic leader is trying to pull a fast one.

This same person, or group, many times has not done due diligence. The individual or group has not examined the facts, nor has it gone to the civic leaders hearing the matter in preparation for forming an opinion to ask them how they are inclined to vote, and why. They just show up, parrot the “facts” their source person has told them and threaten to put the office holder out of office if he/she votes against the will of the protester(s).

This is not civic engagement. It is not engagement at all. It will never lead to a marriage. It is the politics of ignorance and resentment. It builds nothing. It gains little, if anything. So, if this is true, why do people do it, instead of taking the harder, more fruitful road of staying abreast of what is going on, asking questions along the way, and finding out what is behind the agenda item in enough detail that they can formulate the pros and cons and decide intelligently how they wish to advocate?

No time. Boring. Didn’t know it was going to affect me. How do I know if what I read or hear is true? (This from the same people who come down to City Hall to yell at the leaders at a meeting when the neighbor has given them half the story; guess your friend/neighbor always has all the right facts, but the people we elect are all liars and deceivers.) Can’t understand what is written; too much jargon; don’t have the time/interest in picking up the phone and asking someone “What does ‘x’ Mean?”

What is the cure for this phenomenon? Civics. Teaching kids about civic engagement and how to be effective advocates for their point of view.

Why and how should we teach our kids about civics?

“Early on, children rely heavily on their families for ideas about civic participation and how it works (Hess & Torney, 1967/2009). In order to learn how to participate effectively within deliberative and policymaking contexts, students need considerable guidance and continual practice in order to modify their naive political and civic ideas. Students who are encouraged to ask questions, debate alternative actions, and gather evidence about the likely consequences of choosing one direction over others are typically less cynical than peers who do not have those experiences. Opportunities to engage in service-learning experiences also help prepare students for their adult responsibilities in participatory democratic cultures (Hahn & Alviar-Martin, 2008; Hess & Torney, 1967/2009; Kahne & Sporte, 2008; Metz & Youniss, 2005; Parker, 2008)”

From: “The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards: State guidance for enhancing the rigor of K-12 civics, economics, geography, and history” (Draft 6/4/13)

A Young Leader on at a California courts event:

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 5.36.55 PM

Kate Quick is a fixture in the League of Women Voters both locally and statewide. Her enthusiasm for local service has kept her busy and her energy for tackling new projects in unparalleled.  Her latest project included participating in the City of Alameda’s Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) Task Force.


  1. waste of words … don’t read unless you are kate quick

    Comment by Cher — August 6, 2013 @ 6:58 am

  2. I suspect that the schools are not about to get kids more involved in the civic process because of politics and an increasing tendency among parents to accuse teachers of using their children to further some agenda. It really is up to parents to teach kids how things work. The problem is, most of them have no idea and don’t really care either.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — August 6, 2013 @ 7:30 am

  3. Cynical anyone? Learn about your city. Students at both public high schools work the polls, give thousands of hours worth of community service time in a wide variety of endeavors, learn about the political process in class, run a mock Congress, or Model UN, and are encouraged to register to vote. Students watched the presidential debates as part of class assignments. A student from each high school attends Board of Education meetings and reports back to Leadership classes. These Leadership classes model good government. Young people compete in Rotary Club Speech contests, and make speeches in Alameda’s annual Season of Non- Violence Speech Contest.

    Thank you for the Support of the League of Women Voters.

    Comment by commonsense — August 6, 2013 @ 8:38 am

  4. Here is a post from last year asking the question about the impact of blogs on civic engagement:

    Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — August 6, 2013 @ 8:40 am

  5. #3 — Thank you. Took the words right out of my mouth! I have been very impressed with the curriculum on government/democracy/civic engagement in our schools so far (I am an especially big fan of the 8th grade curriculum and the passion that the teachers at my kids’ middle school show for the subject matter.) And I’m impressed with the opportunities at high school to get involved in debating, leadership, and all sorts of clubs that encourage community service.

    And thank you to Kate for an awesome post and for including a portion of the state standard. That was inspiring!

    Comment by Susan Davis — August 6, 2013 @ 9:08 am

  6. What a mean spirited elitist post. Build a straw man, assign all kinds of made-up verbiage spewing from him and castigate him up down and around because he ‘doesn’t have the facts’ then end the browbeating with a couple nonsensical codas.

    The first, a video clip, stumbled through by an 18 year old LA kid reading about how rewarding it is to vote for Obama and clean up streets. No doubt a future Quick fixture.

    The second coda is a picture of Pericles (truly a Greek bearing gifts), and a true (big D) Democrat, who publicly ostracized his political opponents and proposed a decree to let the poor watch theatrical plays without paying.

    Then of all the quotes to emboss on the picture of Pericles is the living embodiment of the 21st century NSA/Fed Gov “we are watching you” raison d’être:

    “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you”

    Thank you Ms Unparalleled Fixture!

    Comment by Jack R — August 6, 2013 @ 9:52 am

  7. “Unparalleled Fixture”? Would that be a toilet? However, that is one of my favorite quotes from Pericles. I’ve always thought it sounded rather non-partisan.
    When I took it, high school civics was mandatory, not optional. But I see no particular correlation between taking civics that long ago and being well-informed & engaged now.

    Comment by vigi — August 6, 2013 @ 10:01 am

  8. # 3 – There are more than two public high schools in Alameda. I am thinking that you forgot ASTI who also does all of the things you mentioned.

    Comment by M.T. — August 6, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

  9. One thing that depresses me about the current Politics in Alameda is the ‘marginalization’ of any opposition. Somehow if you don’t support everything going on in this City you are characterized as an Action Alameda naysayer. The only time I ever read that blog (AA) is when it is linked here. Like Jack I feel the Post from Kate was ‘elitist’. I remember the election for Measure D which really was a Citizen generated measure. The CC declined to bypass the process for gathering signatures. So the Citizens of Alameda gathered the required signatures required for the Ballot Measure. Kate you made several comments in this Blog during that process that essentially ‘profiled’ those gathering signatures. I lost a lot of respect for you. This was a grassroots effort which despite all the negative comments by those who viewed it as an affront to the CC passed by over 79% of the Vote. This is someone that I would think the League of Women Voters would champion.

    Despite all the claims of ‘open government’ I feel the reason a lot of people complain about things after the fact is that there is a ‘secret language’ used in Politics and postings. It may comply with the letter of the law but not with the ‘spirit’ of the law. Perhaps if things were written in plain English there would be more people to participate initially and less to accuse belatedly.

    Comment by frank — August 6, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

  10. 2. Denise, I don’t always agree with your posts but appreciate that you care enough to read and comment. It’s likely I have lead off more than one comment with a qualifying phrase like “I suspect”, though “I doubt” I’ve used “I suspect”. What ” I suspect” seems to do is suggest that what follows is stated with no real knowledge whether it is accurate or not. In this case I don’t think it is accurate. It is NOT up to parents ALONE to teach kids how things work and I know for a fact that there are a lot of teachers who make it a priority to get their students to understand how they can take control of their lives ( to an extent) by being engaged, civically or otherwise. On the other hand it is a verified fact that in the greater measure of teacher efficacy, teachers cannot make up for a lack of good parenting because there is so much of that. “I suspect” that most kids ( but not all) who do participate in mock congress, model U.N., etc., come from homes where they have encouragement from parents. But what many teachers do is fight the current of indifference in order to reach not just kids with engaged parents but the others whose lives can be changed by getting them to to engage.

    Comment by M.I. — August 6, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

  11. Frank, I have a problem with folks who over state. When one gets emotionally invested it’s tempting, but sometimes people are careless. A lot of people who dissent try to lay claim to the opinion of an unquantifiable silent majority of Alamedans with phrases like ” most Alamedans don’t trust staff”. That was yesterday on Lena’s post. How can anybody prove such a claim without a scientific poll? perhaps the majority of people who dissent against the perceived status quo could be said to not trust staff, or most people who write letters to the Sun. Lots of us can be too strident.

    I disagree with the secret language thing. It takes a concerted effort to follow all this. Ya have to give a shit. Do people expect robo calls notifying of every meeting which might concern them?

    Comment by M.I. — August 6, 2013 @ 2:19 pm

  12. With respect to Measure D, the point I was making back then was that if people had inquired of each of the council members a few weeks ahead of the vote on the swap, they would have known that the votes were not there. And they were not – the vote was overwhelmingly no. This does not criticize their interest in the issue; preservation of the park land was a good issue, but it was critical of their level of civic engagement, which would have saved them much time and effort. It is not “elitist” to suggest that people who are interested in a civic issue do their homework and see if a full understanding of the facts and the politics makes the situation look different. Sometimes that is as easy as picking up the phone or going to the library to use a computer (assuming people think that it is elitist to think people have their own computers and know how to use them) to send an email to a public official. I am advocating that we, at home, at school, wherever, teach how to be effective in civic engagement. This starts with understanding the basics of how government works, how levels of government relate to each other, and how the individual can be influential. Adults and kids.

    BTW, two people have told me in the past week that the parcel of land near Crab Cove was sold by the City to a developer instead of to EBRPD, and the City should have never chosen a developer over the regional parks. Since the City does not own, did not own, and had no desire to own the parcel, how the City sold it mystifies me. When I said the issue was zoning, and started when the Feds put it up for sale and EBRPD passed on it because they wanted it for less money, these folks told me I was mislead. I suggested they talk to Doug Siden and people at City Hall to get the true facts and they told me they were right and didn’t need to do that – it should have been sold to EBRPD by the City. I guess some people may think that I am elitist because I believe that people should get the facts before they act on an issue so they can be effective when they take action.

    Comment by Kate Quick,. — August 6, 2013 @ 2:39 pm

  13. The New and Improved Churchlady.

    Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With

    Comment by Lampooning A light, good-humored satire. — August 6, 2013 @ 3:40 pm

  14. Kate my objection were to comments you made in the Blog regarding the people who were collecting the signatures spreading misinformation for Measure D. The was after the swap was a ‘dead deal’. I knew many people who were gathering signatures and they were not guilty of this and efforts to characterize them as such was wrong. In any issue there are a minority on both sides who spread misinformation. I have listened to several live phone calls on several issues over the years where the person (reading from script) had no idea what they were talking about.

    As far as Crab Cove goes I think Richard and others have provided accurate information. It is out there. Certainly these two people had the fact incorrect but that by no means implies everyone has them incorrect. My personal feeling is that the CC should have stayed out of it as far as rezoning goes and let the other issues such as easement play out. What I do feel is elitist is taking a certain individual interaction on an issue and generalizing it to include all who support that issue.

    Comment by frank — August 6, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

  15. #10 I like Denise’s comments. She is honest and certainly braver than I. I am just glad I was in school (50 and 60’s) when teachers were allowed to teach. I had my share of bad ones but I had GREAT ones who really influenced my life. Maybe before your time Mark but in Philly Parochial Schools used to be free. There were private ones like St. Joe’s and LaSalle but the ones run by the Diocese were free even if you were not Catholic. When the whole Teachers contract issues was going on I made a comment that “I could remember a lot of great teachers but not one Administrator”. Also my parents did not blame teachers for my shortcoming they blamed me. Conditions in our schools sucked. 50-60 in a class, no special ed, no teachers aides. If someone didn’t keep up he was ‘left back’. Two of my classmates in 6th grade had driver licenses. But I look at my yearbook and 85% graduated from College. But I think what is more important is that we got a well rounded Education.

    Comment by frank — August 6, 2013 @ 6:11 pm

  16. #10. I did hear from many that signature collectors for Measure D were misrepresenting the facts. More than just a few. I had no quarrel with the issue, but I was concerned about the suggestion that corrupt city officials were eager to sell our parks to developers was not only not accurate, but a smear.
    I think the confusion about Crab Cove is pretty widespread and is on the same theme. Corrupt officials selling park land to developers.

    Comment by Kate Quick — August 6, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

  17. 16: “corrupt officials selling park land to developers” Nonononono, Kate. The real story isn’t the one you’re telling, & doesn’t take that long to tell. It was fairly easy to learn, since while the land was for sale, BY THE GSA, THAT’S THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, NOT THE CITY!, the GSA put a plastic box on a post by the street on McKay, which contained flyers describing the property like any other piece of real estate in Alameda. GSA held Open Houses. Anyone could go in and be shown around the property by the 4-5 realtors who were posted there. I did. & I still have their GSA business cards if anyone is that interested. There were neat & detailed maps & charts telling you everything you needed or wanted to know about this old contaminated Civil Defense School.[former name: Western Training Center] One building was too unsafe to enter. You had to put down a million or so to bid on the property, but nothing to be given the tour. When I went, I was the only one there that day, which is quite surprising now, given the present interest. Even then, the GSA realtors told me the EBRPD “was interested” in the property, but hadn’t done much about it. Did EBRPD even come up with the million so it could bid? I don’t know. But those were the rules!

    Bottom line: The McKay property belonged to the US Gov’t. After an open transparent process during which the public had plenty of time to access, learn about, & bid on the property; the GSA auctioned it off, per the advertised terms. That is not my definition of corruption.

    As far as I could tell, if I had the money, I could have bought it. The GSA only cared about getting the highest price for it. GSA wasn’t interested in “best or future use” of the land.

    Since I learned about the availability of Neptune Pointe right here in Blogging Bayport, it’s surprising so many people writing here have got it all wrong.

    Comment by vigi — August 7, 2013 @ 1:44 pm

  18. Vigi, you are absolutely right about who owned the property and who sold it, and the part about EBRPD not being willing (or able, I don’t know which) to pay the asking/bidding price. What is being put out quite widely and erroneously is that the Council and Mr. Russo gave preference to a developer in the sale over the EBRPD because they wanted it developed for low cost housing – as if the City owned the property or had control over its disposition, which is not true. I am sure you know that EBRPD is suing the City over the zoning, etc. It is a complicated situation, but the City was not the owner, GSA was, and it was GSA who disposed of the property and set the price.

    Comment by Kate Quick,. — August 7, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

  19. Again this takes us back to my original point marginalization of opposite views.
    This is the Website for those trying to preserve this area

    Not anywhere within this Website are they ‘putting out’ erroneously information. So the other day it was ‘you heard from two people’ and now it is ‘being put out quite widely’.

    Of course the other side keeps calling it ‘a parking lot’. The point is this. In this town there will always be erroneous gossip. It is a disservice profile the individuals on one side of an issue and that is what you do constantly.

    Comment by frank — August 8, 2013 @ 7:46 am

  20. The zoning designation for the McKay Avenue property determined the outcome. Had the zoning remained as government/office, or better yet, had the city rezoned it as open space to align with the ballot measure (WW) they endorsed a couple years before the GSA declared the parcel surplus, there would be only one bidder still in the game – the park district. The park district could have overcome, or outmaneuvered, the GSA’s departure from their customary disposal process prescribed by Congress if the city had zoned the property in the park district’s favor (open space) instead of the GSA’s favor (residential).

    Comment by Richard Bangert — August 8, 2013 @ 10:33 pm

  21. Weren’t the zoning changes brought about by the housing element, which came about more than a year (maybe 2 years) after the auction? so are you saying an event that took place 1-2 years in the future impacted the bids? Really?

    Comment by notadave — August 9, 2013 @ 7:17 am

  22. It impacted the outcome, not the bids. Developers don’t typically bid on land zoned as open space unless they are feeling generous and plan to build a park for the community. Zoning it open space would have forced the GSA to negotiate with the park district to sell the land to them instead of conducting an auction. If it stayed as government/office, the winning bidder would not likely have stuck with it because we have plenty vacant office space – meaning no demand to build more offices. The future zoning did not directly impact the bids, except insofar as the bidders were expecting a change of zoning. If the zoning to residential had not occurred, the winning bidder, Tim Lewis would have dropped out. That’s why there has been an extended closing period – they can back out if things don’t work out zoning-wise, or easement-wise.

    Comment by Richard Bangert — August 9, 2013 @ 8:34 am

  23. Here is what the Friends of Crown Beach posted on their web site with respect to the zoning issue:

    “The problem is that in July 2012 the Alameda City Council rezoned the Neptune Point site from administrative/office to multifamily residential with up to 95 residential units. The Park District has since filed a lawsuit against the City of Alameda alleging that the rezoning was done in violation of environmental protection laws and in violation of Measure A of the Alameda City Charter. The Park District is asking the Alameda County Superior Court to rescind the residential zoning.

    If you would like to support the Park District’s expansion plans at Neptune Point and give us permission to use your name on the “Friends of Crown Beach” list, please send an email to:

    Nothing about the timing, the amount of money EBRPD was willing to pay on the first round of bidding, or the reason the City identified this parcel as one whcih might be available for housing when it was putting together the Plan. So, it is complicated.

    As to the how many have been saying they are being told it is the result of corruption, at first it was only two, and when I started asking people what they thought was going on, I found that there were many who had been led to believe that. I find that distressing. I would rather people did their research and made sure they knew the facts.

    To Franks point about marginalizing people on the other side of an issue, particularly Measure D. I am generally on the same side of the issue. I had no opposition to the Measure. When people are enthusiastically putting out erroneous information to gather signatures, be it this issue or others, especially when the information “suggests” that those “on the other side” (there was no “other side” campaign going on) were corrupt, I don’t think that was right. They had plenty of good points to make, but corruption wasn’t one of them.
    I am glad so many got involved and worked so hard. I value that.

    Comment by Kate Quick,. — August 9, 2013 @ 12:08 pm

  24. “The park district could have overcome, or outmaneuvered, the GSA’s departure from their customary disposal process”.

    Richard, I’m afraid those days are gone. The government is trying to close a huge budget deficit and they have the right to dispose of their land in a way that will benefit them best. GSA no doubt decided that a well planned and advertised auction of their property could bid up the price. EBRP put in their bid and lost.

    Cities all over the bay area are seeing an increase in interest in vacant infill parcels. Case in point: City Ventures has a new development in the pipeline on an old warehouse site on Oak Street. Despite the current zoning, the developer has a vision for that site and sees value, where the average person sees an old warehouse. These types of developments create new vitality in areas where previously there was blight.

    As far the McKay site, I am hopeful that the EBRP will decide to work with the developer to create an exciting infill development that we can all enjoy.

    Comment by Karen Bey — August 9, 2013 @ 12:51 pm

  25. 24. “I’m afraid those days are gone. The government is trying to close a huge budget deficit…”

    Karen, you’re not getting the concept. It’s not Alameda’s responsibility to help the federal government with budget issues by rezoning land so they can get top dollar to pay for remodeling existing buildings. Zoning the parcel open space would have taken the auction option off the table, but they still would have gotten more than a million dollars cash a long time ago from the park district in a direct sale at the appraised value.

    23. “they are being told it is the result of corruption..”

    Kate, your assumptions are wrong. In fact, the opposite has been happening. People at public events frequently tell people handing out leaflets that it is the result of corruption. Trying to convince them otherwise and motivate them to simply write a letter asking the council to correct a mistake often falls on deaf ears. Typical interchange with people on the street: “What’s this about?” “The park district wants to acquire this property to expand the park.” “And?” “The city zoned it for residential.” Person on the street rubs thumb and fingers together in the universal gesture for money, meaning city hall is influenced by money.

    Kate, The Crown Beach issue is not that complicated, and all the details are available on the Friends of Crown Beach website. For starters, read the timeline:

    Whether some people come to the conclusion that corruption is behind the chain of events is beyond control.

    Comment by Richard Bangert — August 9, 2013 @ 2:39 pm

  26. Developer asks for re-zoning.
    City re-zones and meets developers request.
    Developer makes campaign contribution.
    Corruption ?
    You decide.

    Comment by Alam — August 9, 2013 @ 3:07 pm

  27. 26. this is unhelpful. if there is a verified case then spell it out. otherwise don’t confuse the issue.

    Comment by MI — August 10, 2013 @ 9:11 am

  28. 26. Is making the misinformed point. “Campaign contributions from developers are driving City Council decisions about disposition of park lands in Alameda.” All candidates must file reports about their contributions. These are public record. It would be more helpful to cite which candidate/winner (because the only ones making the decisions are the winners) received large contributions from which developers, and what the timing was with respect to the re-zoning decisions. I am sorry #27, this is not “confusing the issue.” This is an accusation of civic corruption via a “quid pro quo” for a vote, and in this case it had to be three people so voting. That is serious stuff.

    Comment by Kate Quick,. — August 10, 2013 @ 9:37 pm

  29. Richard #25. The timeline was very helpful to an understanding of the issue.

    Comment by Kate Quick,. — August 10, 2013 @ 9:47 pm

  30. 28

    What if organizations who consume ~70% of the city’s budget made campaign contributions to councilmembers who voted them excessive compensation packages? Would that be quid pro quo? Would that be corruption?

    Or what if a person without prior city mgr experience made campaign contributions to councilmembers who then hired him over applicants with relevant experience? Would that be corruption?

    Or does corruption only occur with politicians you don’t support?

    Comment by dave — August 11, 2013 @ 9:18 am

  31. #30. The compensation packages enjoyed by the “70%” as you call them were granted by prior councils, going as far back as the 1970’s and 1980’s-90’s. During the good economic times, such packages were common to all cities in California. With the downturn, they have proven to be unsustainable. The current council in its most recent negotiations was able to garner some ground in reducing future costs on the pension and benefit front and has declared its intention to get back more ground in the next round. Even our public protection employees have declared their willingness to work with the City to reduce pension and benefit obligations. The issue is being worked on now. I hope the outcome will be positive.

    The current City Manager has had extensive experience in various levels of City government, as a council member and as the city attorney in Oakland. He was also for many years a leader in the League of California Cities and is widely published on all sorts of political issues pertaining to cities. He is no neophyte. You may not agree with him on various issues, but he is a knowledgeable person who is well connected to people at other levels of government who can be helpful to our city. If you don’t like him, so be it, but the argument that he was hired because he made a couple of minor campaign contributions well before he had decided to put his hat in the ring for the position of our City Manager is pretty thin.

    I have never accused any of the politicians in our City of corruption, because I have no knowledge that any such exists, or has existed in those I have known. It is a serious charge, and one which should not be leveled lightly, or without factual evidence.

    Comment by Kate Quick,. — August 11, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

  32. Somethings never Change.

    Your Quote
    ” Every city in California and many across the nation are facing the same issues – when the economy was in better shape and our investments were yielding good returns, we could afford what we negotiated.”

    In 1995 Fire was about 15-16% of Budget and Police about the same according to all the information I have seen.. This was 17 Years after Prop 13 was implemented.

    2001 Contract that was signed and agreed upon after the greatest tumble in our financial system where Markets had lost 80% of its Value and Millions out of Work and business were shutting doors daily and revenues to the City were in tremedous jeopardy and Calpers Posting Billions in Losses…..But Staff said everything ok…
    Everything was so good they had to close the Markets for a week…..Plus Staff was due for new Contract….Just coincidence they said all was well…

    To even make more sense out of all these raises and lucrative pensions in 2001 we also had the Base Closure 4 years prior and revenues had dropped significantly from that. But Staff recommended these people need more money and We do to,,
    The Council and Mayor are huge Benefactors From the Firemans Unions and Employee Unions in their Campaigns . Not a healthy situation when it comes to Labor Contracts and the fudicary responsibilty owed to the Citizens . That is why we are Upside Down.
    Comment by John — May 25, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

    Comment by Laugh a Minute — August 11, 2013 @ 10:26 pm

  33. Kate give me a list of All the City Manager Candidates that Gave Huge Campaign Donations to City Council Members and a Mayor in a Election who was in the Process of leaving his position in another City and Applying to be a New City Manager for the City.

    There is over 10,000 Cities in US . Give me your 10 favorite City Managers who did same thing.

    You act like these Donations were nothing.

    Comment by Laugh a Minute — August 11, 2013 @ 10:44 pm

  34. Ms. Quick:

    The biggest single change in compensation of which I am aware happened barely a decade ago, the massive pension bump in ’01. And regardless of how many years ago the plans were put in place, it has been painfully clear for several years that reform was called for. During that time, the public safety unions have been major contribitors to the campaign of councilmemebers who have failed to take serious action and indeed increased compensation, while sharply cutting the parks & rec and public works budgets. Checks were written, favorable votes were cast.

    Russo was/is a political person serving in political functions, not the technocratic function of a city manager, who is supposed to be hired based on ability & experience rather than political favor. He wrote checks, those who cashed them hired him. A former assistant city manager who had direct & relevant experience, but who did not write checks, was not chosen.

    You say you need evidence. The dictionary defines evidence thusly:

    ev·i·dence (v-dns)
    1. A thing or things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgment: The broken window was evidence that a burglary had taken place. Scientists weigh the evidence for and against a hypothesis.
    2. Something indicative; an outward sign: evidence of grief on a mourner’s face.
    3. Law The documentary or oral statements and the material objects admissible as testimony in a court of law.

    If checks written for favorable votes isn’t “helpful in forming a conclusion or judgement” or isn’t “something indicative, an outward sign” then pray tell what is?

    Comment by dave — August 12, 2013 @ 5:59 am

  35. Dave In Politics we have different Standards

    Bribery, Kickbacks and Payoffs

    Defining What’s Legal

    The core characteristic of a commercial bribe, in which the company becomes the victim involves improper influencing of a corporate decision or expenditure by an employee for personal or career gain.

    Commercial bribery- a form of corrupt and unfair trade practices in which an employee accepts a gratuity to act against the best interests of his or her employer. (People v. Davis, 33Cr. R. 460,160 N.Y.S. 769).

    No Federal statute exists prohibiting commercial bribery. However, the offense may be prosecuted at the Federal level as mail fraud, or as part of other offenses concerning contractors or vendors for the Federal Government. Approximately 25 states have statutes making commercial bribery a criminal (state) offense.

    Illegal Gratuity- is a lesser-included offense of bribery. It is an extra “thank you” or “reward” payment to an official for the performance of normal duties. An illegal gratuity does not require proof if intent to influence.

    Collusion- “An agreement between two or more persons to defraud a person of his rights. It is a conspiracy or concert of action between two or more persons for fraudulent or deceitful purposes.” – Black’s Law Dictionary

    Kickbacks – in the commercial sense, are the giving or receiving anything of value to influence a business decision, without the employer’s knowledge and consent.

    Gifts and Gratuities- An illegal gift or gratuity is the giving or receiving anything of value for or because of an official act. Unlike kickbacks, the gift or gratuity does not have to be given influence, but merely as a “thank you” for something that has been done.

    The gift givers may believe that they (or their company) have earned a favored status when an influential employee accepts a gift from them. Others may assume that employees accepting gifts have agreed to a beholden position and are no longer free to act for their company without prejudice.

    The Internal Revenue Service allows only one $25 business gift per year as a tax exemption. Gifts to employees exceeding that allowance become taxable as income.

    Conflicts of Interest- this occurs when a company official has an undisclosed financial interest in a transaction that causes economic harm to the company. Employee involvement in business conflicts of interest often surpasses an ethics problem. Conflicts of interest may involve white-collar crimes that include bribes, kickbacks, or misuse of information and may extend into other crimes such as forgery, fraud, and theft.

    Recruiting Versus Bribery- The crime of bribery can develop from a company offering or promising a job or position to an employee of your corporation when you can show that doing so influenced the employee to act in a way that created injury to the company.

    Personality Profiles of the Corrupt Recipient:

    The Big Spender – is the most common way to detect corrupted employees. However, some recipients spend their money less conspicuously by paying off debts or paying down mortgages.

    The Gift Taker- A company or government official who regularly accepts gifts that are not appropriate, may often be susceptible to larger payments.

    The “Odd” Couple – Corrupted employees and their payers may often appear to have very friendly social relationships. Parties who do not have much in common, but frequently meet outside of the office, may be a sign of deep and troublesome ties between the two.

    The Rule Breaker- Probably of all characteristics listed here, this is the most significant. An individual receiving a payoff will often take action on his own, or direct a subordinate to bend, break, or ignore standard operating procedures or rules to benefit the payer. You should pay particular attention to those who insert themselves into areas in which they are not normally involved or attempt to assert authority or make decisions for which they are not responsible.

    Comment by interesting times — August 12, 2013 @ 9:00 am

  36. 34. can you honestly argue that Gallant or even Jim Flint were better qualified than John Russo for City Manger? what do you think qualifies a person for the job? or is the question what is it that doesn’t disqualify them?

    Comment by MI — August 12, 2013 @ 9:01 am

  37. It’s a bit of both, dome qualifiers, some disqualifiers.

    I honestly don’t have much recollection of Flint but I do have a pretty clear recall of Gallant. I very much appreciated her her intense focus on budget reform and that alone made her a solid candidate. Her weaknesses were political rather than professional.

    The former ACM that I mention was David Brandt. He was a natural candidate, he knew the city’s ins and outs and had proven himself a competent & professional manager, with vastly more direct experience than Russo.

    Council seats are political jobs. The CM is (or used to be anyway) a professional job, technocratic if you will, and applicants should be chosen based on technical expertise & background. Russo wan’t chosen on that basis.

    Comment by dave — August 12, 2013 @ 9:21 am

  38. Ms. Quick,

    There was no accusation #26. There were statements of facts and a question. The fact you jumped to a conclusion speaks volumes.

    A few specifics for MI follow:

    Lewis Homes sent a letter to City of Alameda Planning formally requesting rezoning in November 2011. City Staff confirms interested parties made prior inquiries to rezone.

    Bonta voted to rezone Neptune land in July 2012.

    Tim Lewis contributed to Bonta and Bonta listed Tim Lewis as a “Serrano Sponsor”

    Comment by Alam — August 12, 2013 @ 9:56 am

  39. Another fact that we should consider is that elections cost money, and council members do not get compensation (i.e. like $250K for Gallant) in Alameda.

    Comment by BarbaraK — August 12, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

  40. Is that a justificatiopn for trading favors for contributions?

    Comment by dave — August 12, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

  41. Just stating the facts, and not making accusations. It sounds like you prefer that candidates self-fund their elections like Pat Bail.

    Comment by BarbaraK — August 12, 2013 @ 12:26 pm

  42. I wonder what Alam would call Ms. Jane Sullwold receiving $1,000 from Greenway Golf after recommending their selection as the long-term lease operator of the Corica Golf Course. Which definition of impropriety does this fall under?

    Comment by Alan — August 12, 2013 @ 4:45 pm

  43. #32. Back in 1995 municipal budgets were not required to show their pension obligations “above the line”, and did not. New accounting rules followed some pretty bad financial scandals (Enron et al) and all had to include their pension obligations as part of the budget. The percentage for salary and benefits looks a lot different when it is in the main budget document, rather than in a footnote. So the costs were there in some greater percentage, but the public was not aware of them, unless they perused the whole financials of the City. So the comparison is apples to oranges, I believe. One would have to research the cost of the pension/benefit obligation in 1995 and add it back into the salaries and benefits to get a true comparison. I haven’t done this, but I think the result would be a much closer percentage.

    Another observation: If the developer contributed to only one person’s race, and there were three votes required for the rezoning, might there have been other reasons for the other votes? Might the pressure to identify parcels for possible development to fill regional requirements have played into the final vote?

    I’d like to see fewer accusations of corruption and more arguments about the pros and cons of the rezoning decision.

    I think civic engagement, to be really positive and fruitful, should be based on getting good information and making positive arguments regarding a chosen position. I was distressed that some of the signature gatherers in the Measure D campaign were suggesting it was needed because of corruption, but many of the leadership of that campaign are trusted friends, and I don’t believe for a minute that they wanted to convey that image. Nevertheless, it happened and I am asking that in general, when people chose to be civically engaged, they argue the facts and not engage in hyperbole to convince others. It takes some training and discipline to do that.

    Comment by Kate Quick,. — August 12, 2013 @ 5:50 pm

  44. 38. thanks for posting that. When did Lewis contribute and to election for what office? The election was November 2012 right?

    37. being elected councilman and elected City Attorney for Oakland gave Russo plenty of cred for this job. The Lewis donation to Bonta is distressing but also if somebody contributes in order to buy favor it doesn’t mean they have succeeded. How many candidates go around refusing donations based on who makes them? Just saying. Still looks bad.

    As far as Russo’s contributions to Tam or whomever it’s O.K. with me if local politicians support each other. Marie Gilmore supported John Russo’s in his run for state assembly which did not gain her extra favor with Sandre Swanson and the people who backed him. As local people who know and support each other I don’t have a problem with these contributions if they are public record. I believe Lauren posted Russo’s history on such contributions which have a pattern prior to the latest elections which to me does the opposite of suggest he was trying to buy a shot a the City Manager job. He didn’t need to contribute to have people who he knows favor hiring him. Brandt was qualified though I’m not going to speculate if he was the better candidates, though giving the job might have shut a lot of people up.

    Comment by M.I. — August 12, 2013 @ 6:00 pm

  45. Mark, I’ll take a guess that health insurers’ & pharmaceutical firms’ campain contributions to buy influence with Congress re: health policy offend you. They should. (I base that on your 1%/healthcare comment elsewhere today.) I’ll continue by assuming that Wall St banks’ contributions offend you in the same way. Again, they should.

    If those are fair gauges of your position — and please correct me if they aren’t — why aren’t you angered by such influence peddling locally? The firefighters’ lobbying is no different than Goldman’s or Merck’s. If Doug de Haan or Pat Bail (if she’d won) hired a campaign contibutor for a high level job, you’d be screaming bloody murder, and you’d be right.

    It is hard to conclude anything other than personality: it’s OK for politicians you like. Again, if I’m reading you wrong, please correct me. But if I’m reading you right, why do you draw such distinctions?

    Comment by dave — August 13, 2013 @ 9:28 am

  46. 45. influence peddling is the same in principle no matter who is behind it. Swapping endorsements for favors is B-A-D. I’m particularly displeased by the last round in the 1990s which lead to the retire at 50 with 3 % base salary for each year. Personally, I think if the options are really going to bankruptcy that unions make some real changes. However, I’m not throwing baby out with bath water. The anti-labor climate in this country is toxic and it eats at all the basically G-O-O-D things labor brought us like, 40 hour week, child labor laws, on and on. To compare negative impacts of unpunished Wall Street robber barons and unions is simply ignorant. The Wall Street guys even exacerbated the pension debt! “John” likes to belly ache about the supposedly astronomical sums spent by teachers unions from their dues, but how else do they defend against Koch bros.?

    Mainly it would depend on who Pat or Doug would have hired in terms of a) competence ( I think it is foolish to rail at Russo for inexperience) and b) the history and relationship of the players in the realm of politics too I guess. The Democrats are a local machine more or less. With the size of war chest of local politicians I can’t see them all being so highly principled that they decline contributions based on how it might look, that is unless it’s developer money or some other similar interest. In principle it would be great if ALL politics was publicly financed in terms of removing the influence of money, but then we would have to pay for every clown who came down the pike who deemed themselves worthy to run. So you are wrong, it is not about who I like, it’s about a pragmatic attitude toward sausage making.

    Comment by MI — August 18, 2013 @ 9:17 am

  47. Walmart is not benign capitalism it is in fact malignant and the remedy is organized labor. Labor Day coming up.

    Comment by M.I. — August 24, 2013 @ 9:42 pm

  48. Amazon is monopoly capitalism at it’s best or worst actually, and the profit is based on anti-labor principle. Labor Day is coming up.,0,6503103.story

    Comment by M.I. — August 27, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

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