Blogging Bayport Alameda

November 7, 2014

Why ask why

Filed under: Alameda, Election, Errata — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

I’m reposting this response I left in the comments from two new commenters who sort of hit the blog hard with lots of questions and then got a little more hung up on the “anonymous comments” tip than what they actually swung by to ask.  As a note for those that are new here or don’t remember, I don’t mind anonymous comments and in fact wrote a whole blog post about it five years ago.  To nutshell, anonymous comments are cool, just please try to stick with the same handle as much as possible.

From that blog post:

But on the other hand, the cost of putting full name behind your opinions can be very high, particularly when you are dealing with politics, and local politics are the worst.   While some people may decry “personal attacks”– whatever that is defined to be in that person’s mind — criticizing someone’s position on an issue or even flaming someone virtually is a far cry from some of the antics against folks who have been forthright enough to reveal their name in comments and on blogs.   Lawsuits, wikipedia entries, writing letters to donors (p.37) and then gloating about it, filing complaints with the FPPC, digging into people’s financial records and alleging ethics violations (p.86), threats of lawsuits (p. 99, 188, 121),publishing people’s personal information…those are the types of things that chill and destroy meaningful dialogue, not anonymous commenting.

And of course what also destroys meaningful dialogue is — even if done in jest — that people were considering this sort of thing:

I know a group of peoples which are trying to buy a house next to his and turn it into an1/2 way house , Nothing He will be able to say , it will definitely be an interesting time , Not in my neighborhood ……..

The person they are referring to is a sitting Planning Board member to whom, I’m guessing, the “group of peoples” disagrees with.  But I digress.

Anyway, because I’m not sure if the two commenters caught it in the comments section, I am reposting the answers that they seek here:

“Why haven’t Alameda politicians been forthcoming about their plans? Sorry, why have they outright refused to discuss any details of what they have done until after the deals have already been finalized? Why so secretive? Why were they not “allowed” to discuss Crown Beach, the Harbor Bay Club, or the “economically necessary” vacant parking lot on Buena Vista?”

All of the discussions about these three particular issues have been well aired in the public realm. Nothing is secretive and nothing is being kept from the public. To nutshell, I’ll start with the oldest to newest.

1. Vacant parking lot of Buena Vista: this is the historic yellow house that was bulldozed for a parking lot, I believe you are referring to. This was a victim of the outdated parking minimums that are required by the City of Alameda. Because everyone expects free parking when it comes to retail space. The owner of the building wanted to create x square feet of retail and, at the time, there was a requirement that per how ever many square feet of retail he is asking for he must provide x number of spaces. That’s why the Alameda Marketplace has like three small lots of parking scattered around the building. Those parking minimums predated Marie Gilmore’s time as the Mayor. In fact that project and the turmoil over the historic building predated her time as Mayor as well. (I just checked my archives, it was removed from the Historic Building list in 2009 and Frank Matarrese was also on the Council at that time) Don’t want buildings to get torn down for unnecessary unused parking, ask for relaxed parking standards.

2. Harbor Bay Club: there are no current plans that have been presented before the City Council and/or the Planning Board (which is where it would go first). Without an actual plan talking about it would be premature. To ask that a sitting City Council member make a decision or even discuss a project that only exists based on the many many iterations that Harbor Bay has posted on-line is pretty ridiculous. The City Council in the past — including Marie Gilmore — has made it pretty clear that Ron Cowan is not “owed” the right to build any more units simply because he failed to build his entire allotment the first time around. But without an actual plan submitted to the City, it’s all just speculation and there are many other important issues before the City Council than speculating over what Ron Cowan will or will not do.

3. Crown Beach: simple, the land belongs to the Federal Government. Full Stop. When it went to auction years and years ago to assess the “free market value” of the property the EBRPD balked and said that their assessment was that it was not worth what the federal government wanted for it. A developer felt that it was. Now before the Federal Government had even considered putting it up for auction the City, as part of the Housing Element the City had identified that site as a potential place where housing could be build. Could be. Not would be built. The State only asks for jurisdictions to identify (and zone) parcels that could hold housing that would meet the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). The distinction is that the units do not have to be built just that the land has to be zoned suitable for building. The developer found the designation in the Housing Element and requested that the land be rezoned per the Housing Element. The land was zoned from Industrial with a Government overlay to Mixed use or R-4 something residentially to bring Alameda’s Housing Element in compliance. This was all done publicly. Also, regardless of what the land was zoned, the zoning would be appropriate for the EBRPD had they simply met the asking price of the Feds. Fast forward through lawsuits and ballot measures and the City Council zoning — not REZONING because it was never this zoning in the first place — the land to open space.

The nut in all this is that the land STILL belongs to the Feds. And the Feds can build whatever the hell they want on it. Including housing, if they so choose because the Federal government is exempt from local building and planning laws. All this is public information that has been widely discussed and discussed at length at the City Council.

So nothing has been hidden from the public, but it’s all so much more complicated and complex than neatly packaged soundbytes about “saving parks” or implications that these deals were all done “behind closed doors.” I know they weren’t because I tracked every single one of these issues from start to finish. The Crown Beach one, I even tracked from the start of the auction. Which by the way the first auction had zero bidders and they had to extend the auction.

Commenter Li_ had a cogent response to someone’s critique about that I keep leaving out information that the EBRPD was legally constrained from coming up with the amount that the Feds wanted in the whole Crown Beach saga (even though I did :

Think of it this way. The Fed’s were constrained to assess the free market value of the parcel and use that amount as the price. EBRPD was constrained to use the assessed value of the parcel as the basis of their offer. So, as usually happens, there was a considerable difference in amounts. Neither side, due to their constraints, was in a position to negotiate. The end result at that time was that EBRPD offered what they were constrained to offer. The offer was not accepted as it did not match the price that the Fed’s were constrained to ask for. This was between those two government agencies. Nobody else was involved at that time.

And then another commenter seemed to believe that the City of Alameda should not have zoned the land residential to which I responded:

Again, the zoning of the Neptune Pointe property is irrelevant to the plans that EBRPD had for the property. The land sale price with the private developer was negotiated by the Federal Government before the land was zoned to residential. The land was actually probably cheaper zoned at the previous zoning than it was when it was zoned residential. But regardless: Administrative Professional with a Government overlay, Residential, Mixed Use, Open Space…any of these zoning types would have not precluded EBRPD from building exactly what they wanted IF they owned the land.

The ownership of the land is the key issue, the zoning is not.

Regarding the Harbor Bay information, commenter JKW clarified the whole “refusing to talk about it” thing:

What they did say was that on issues where the city council sits in a quasi-judicial manner, like rezoning applications (aka Harbor Bay Club) they cannot take a position before the hearing. California law requires a fair hearing for these matters, and if a person has taken a position (for instance, no housing on the HBC site), it puts the city in a legal bind because the applicant can claim that it was not possible to have a fair hearing with said decision-maker.

No one ever said that they can’t talk about policy, or ideas, or direction. They were asked a specific question about a real and specific issue (housing on HBC site) and two gave definitive answers, three said that they couldn’t comment because it would create problems in the future if the issue were to come forward.

If these election results hold, and HBIA bring their rezoning request to the council. Council members Ezzy-Ashcraft, Oddie and Daysog will be the three deciding votes, as Matarrese owns property nearby (and therefore can have a strong opinion because he won’t be allowed to vote due to an actual conflict of interest) and Spencer has already adamantly determined her position on the issue.

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43 Comments

  1. I’ve never seen anyone whine about an anonymous comment they agree with. It’s just a very lame way to disagree with a post you don’t like. It usually means that poster is correct, and the whiner has nothing else to fall back on. (Exceptions for over the top abusive posts, obviously, but those are not common.)

    Comment by dave — November 7, 2014 @ 6:49 am

  2. As you can see, I post anonymously and have consistently posted under the same name for many years now. Here’s the reason why I do it:

    I serve on the boards of a couple of local charitable organizations. Those organizations must maintain good relationships with various public and private entities and groups to fulfill their charitable mission. I have been critical on this site of the actions and policies of some of those entities and groups. I have concerns that my personal opinions could adversely affect the charitable organizations that are just trying to serve the community because I sometimes have to be the face or voice of the charitable organizations. So I post anonymously. That being said, many people know who I am, and I have publicly spoken out on in person and in print on issues when I don’t think it would harm the charitable organizations. If it’s THAT important that you know who I am, Lauren can put me in touch with you. But I can’t imagine it would be THAT important to anyone, and if you don’t know me already, my name will probably not ring a bell.

    Yours in anonymous posting,

    Oh the Irony!

    Comment by Oh the Irony! — November 7, 2014 @ 10:10 am

  3. im cool with anonymous posting. I use a nickname but am not hard to identify, though I’m nobody.

    I assume Lauren can see IP addresses an if the same IP uses multiple handles, that is lame and I hope Lauren calls them out.

    Comment by BMac — November 7, 2014 @ 12:25 pm

  4. BMac is not a nobody!!

    Comment by Daditude for Life — November 7, 2014 @ 3:32 pm

  5. posting as a known entity is more credible just because it is, but obviously a well made point stands on it’s own merit whether the person who makes it is anonymous or not. The anonymity becomes a factor when people start to go out of bounds and making a lot of accusations. At some point credibility then becomes an issue if folks are saying stuff anonymously that they would aboslutely never say otherwise or make irresponsible accusations which they can’t or won’t prove, but also can’t be held accountable.

    Comment by MI — November 7, 2014 @ 4:01 pm

  6. O.K. , MI between you and Dave I think I have some new guide lines to use on this site, at least I’ll try.

    Comment by John P. — November 7, 2014 @ 4:41 pm

  7. Holy shit, its now a 91 vote difference, just posted on the county site.

    Comment by John P. — November 7, 2014 @ 4:55 pm

  8. Lauren, I appreciate your addressing that matter, and responding to the substance of some of the matters I brought up, even though I disagree with you on those points. Ad hominem attacks can, as I mentioned, be gratifying as they usually indicate that the attacker can’t come up with anything better.

    1. The developer of that property bought a former car dealership that was *surrounded* by parking spaces. He chose to build the retail space out to the sidewalk, building over what were already perfectly good parking spaces in order to create more (as yet completely vacant) interior retail space. There was plenty of land to have fewer square feet of retail space and a conforming number of parking spaces, but instead he was allowed to demolish a historic home on adjacent land. The house was not the “victim” of parking requirements. If that land had been vacant I would have totally celebrated this project (although I dislike the aesthetics of building out to the sidewalk). I love seeing new retail in this area of Park Street. I like the new Walgreen’s and the way that it architecturally echoes the Marketplace building.

    At the time Council made their final vote dooming the house, those of us who wanted to save it were promised that architectural salvage companies would be allowed to come and take whatever they wanted for use in restoring other historic homes, in Alameda and elsewhere.

    I personally witnessed the demolition, and watched the backhoe tear into a house that was obviously untouched in this manner. Light fixtures, claw foot bathtub, even the freaking shower curtain was still hanging up. It probably all went to a landfill somewhere.

    2. All I will say is that while you may feel that there are so many more important issues before Council that they should not bother to figure out a way to engage with their constituents on it, a significant number of those constituents apparently felt otherwise.

    3. I don’t have any rebuttal other than to reiterate my belief that it is part of the job of elected officials to communicate and explain to their constituents why they are taking actions that are unpopular. A simple letter to the editor or 30-minute press conference, if it is all this obvious, is all it would take.

    But in truth, I didn’t start posting here to debate. I don’t think this is a good forum to debate. To be honest, I came to gloat a bit, but also to point out that perhaps something could be learned from the results of the election.

    While you or I have enough knowledge and time to go over all the documents, attend meetings, etc., we are in the minority on that, yet everyone else gets the same vote. With all our research and everything, your vote and mine probably wound up canceling each other out.

    In a representative democracy, we hire people to do the grunt work of figuring this stuff out and reporting back to us and then taking action in the form of their votes. Many Alamedans, perhaps even a majority, feel that that give and take of information has become one-sided with the current administration.

    You said yourself on your Brain Gut Heart post that the races were Marie Gilmore’s and Mike MacMahon’s to lose, and it would appear that they lost them. Rather than calling the people who disagreed with you stupid, it would be great if you and the people who agree with you on these issues could learn from the experience. If you’re so right, why were your candidates beaten? And if you answer that with something like “because most of my fellow Alamedans are stupider than me” or “because they’re ill-informed,” then you’re not going to get anywhere.

    Speaking for myself and people I know, we went to candidate forums (the first one I attended was skipped by Ms. Gilmore), studied news sites (even your blog), studied the ballot pamphlets, met with candidates on an individual basis, etc. If you want to keep believing that I’m unintelligent or ill-informed, there’s not much more I can do.

    You know politics well enough to know that it’s especially difficult to unseat an incumbent. Just ask yourself how that could have happened.

    Your “opponents” are not “against everything” any more than you are “for everything.”

    Back in the Theater Wars days, I did not meet a single soul who did not want the Alameda Theater to reopen. I did, however, meet plenty of people who felt that different ideas about what the final project should be like should be considered.

    Yet I see in the comments on your blog that some of your followers believe that everyone who stood in the way of the process was “against the Theater.” C’mon indeed.

    It might surprise you, but one project I would love to see is a high-rise apartment at the Point. Weird for someone who’s still chafed about a tiny old house being torn down? Perhaps, but we are not all alike.

    In Alameda, and in the US as a whole, I would like to see a return to the politics of compromise. Not the “side” who are in power being the only constituents catered to. I want you to have your new homes at the Point, and I want my expanded park at Crab Cove and my historic buildings preserved.

    And it may have to be okay that you don’t get as many units at Del Monte as you want or that an old building or two gets torn down for a greater good, but in either case, I would hope that at the end of the day both sides would at least come away feeling that their concerns were heard and addressed.

    One last thing, and we may just have to disagree on this, but my viewpoint is that the needs and desires of the current residents of Alameda are of the most concern. Adding more housing, industry, whatever, needs to take into account whether it will enhance the lives of the people who live here. When we’re talking about more housing, we should also be talking about how life will be for the new Alamedans who will inhabit it.

    Anyway, thanks for listening, and thanks for providing the forum, and I truly hope that my comments help. I detest “black and white” “for it or against it” “us vs. them.” We all want what’s best for the city we love; we just have different visions of what that is. It’s an interesting time in this City’s history, with lots of decisions to be made that will have long-term impact on its character.

    Comment by Wedgee — November 7, 2014 @ 6:17 pm

  9. Wedgee:

    The question was not about whether you agreed with what had occurred, the questions was posed thusly:

    Why haven’t Alameda politicians been forthcoming about their plans? Sorry, why have they outright refused to discuss any details of what they have done until after the deals have already been finalized? Why so secretive? Why were they not “allowed” to discuss Crown Beach, the Harbor Bay Club, or the “economically necessary” vacant parking lot on Buena Vista?

    As I pointed out, the discussions regarding all of these projects happened in the full view of the public. There was nothing secretive and no one indicated that they were “not allowed” to talk about the projects.

    Also, I said that it was Gary Lym’s race to lose against Mike McMahon, Gary Lym had the advantage with the teacher’s union backing and support.

    You also said this:

    I would like to see a return to the politics of compromise.

    If you really had wanted that you would never have voted for Trish Spencer. She has been unable from her entire time on the School Board to compromise, ever. She has not built coalitions, she has not brought anyone to see how her position would be the correct action to take. Compromise is not something that is in Trish Spencer’s vocabulary. It’s fine and dandy to make everyone feel listened to, but the problem is that people don’t tend to feel as though they are listened to if the result isn’t their preferred outcome. The role of an elected official is to listen but then make a decisive decision regardless of whether or not everyone goes away happy. Marie Gilmore has done that, Trish Spencer has never.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 7, 2014 @ 6:28 pm

  10. Thanks for this. As a side note, I post much more often in many other places using a pseudonym. My “gambit” of using my real name actually ensures that I’m more anonymous than if I’d used my common handle. Which really means nothing, but perhaps I’m easily amused. For the record, I have never commented on your blog under any other name than the name that reads on my birth certificate (save for the abbreviation of my middle name, of course).

    I agree that an anonymous poster presenting information and making assertions needs to either provide independent corroboration or risk being entirely ignored. Asking questions or putting forth logical arguments, however, have nothing at all to authenticate. Either their logic is sound or it is not, and a question is a *request*. No one is obliged to answer anyone’s questions, anonymous or otherwise, in a forum like this. What made me angry was the dismissal of what seemed to me to be perfectly valid questions. Honestly, adding my real name to the discussion seems pointless. None of you knows who I am (although you very well might have done background checks in the time since I posted) so no one has any more reason to trust me than to trust someone posting as “Charles Ulysses Farley.” More importantly, I made no assertions, and there was nothing for anyone to “trust”.

    I do appreciate you having made specific answers to the questions I proxied. I haven’t responded because some of it seems perfectly reasonable, and other parts conflict with my understanding of the facts. I freely admit that I am not an authority, so my understanding is comprised of a smattering of a very small amount of firsthand information, secondhand information from trusted sources, secondhand information from untrusted sources, a disbelief in some secondhand information from distrusted sources, logical conclusions, speculation, and personal prejudice. To that I add your assertions. I have yet to make anything like an in-depth reconciliation.

    Because I haven’t compared my understanding (taking into account the sources of the information on which I’ve formed my understanding) against those parts of your replies that differ from mine, and because I don’t know you, I’m neither in a position to accept or refute your answers. I appreciate them and I will look deeper into them. I have no reason to dismiss them, but neither will I simply take your word and have that be the end of it. At this time I have nothing further to assert, either in agreement or as rebuttal.

    That, I guess, is a long-winded way of saying, “I didn’t answer because I don’t know anything and have nothing to say.” But I want to be clear that I appreciate your replies, and am considering them respectfully.

    Comment by Steven M Scotten — November 7, 2014 @ 6:31 pm

  11. Relatively speaking, this blog is getting a little long in the tooth and long-winded nothingness adds to its irrelevance.

    Comment by jack — November 7, 2014 @ 7:00 pm

  12. God dam Jack, these folks have just written paragraphs of nothing saying nothing, we can both disagree with each other in one paragraph. There is something to say about being concise.

    Comment by John P. — November 7, 2014 @ 7:46 pm

  13. Making my point for me again, Mr. P. I disagree with you, therefore, I am “saying nothing.”

    Comment by Wedgee — November 7, 2014 @ 7:51 pm

  14. It’s ‘damn’ John and even though we’re both getting a little long in the tooth BUT we’re damned glad we live on the west side.

    Comment by jack — November 7, 2014 @ 7:53 pm

  15. no you just seem to think that if I write many many paragraphs I am getting my point across, David Kirwin used to do the same thing but we all got tired of reading his endless posts. Wedgee, be concise. I already know we disagree, just make your point.

    Comment by John P. — November 7, 2014 @ 7:56 pm

  16. 14, sorry Jack I missed that, just trying to be concise.

    Comment by John P. — November 7, 2014 @ 7:57 pm

  17. Wedgee, post 13. I don’t disagree with you,you are super good at saying nothing.

    Comment by John P. — November 7, 2014 @ 8:08 pm

  18. Logical, reasoned arguments are always longer than blunt, unsupported assertion. I know it’s true because I said so.

    Comment by Steven M Scotten — November 7, 2014 @ 8:11 pm

  19. Since Lauren had gone to the trouble to repost the answers ostensibly for the benefit of Wedgee and myself (evidenced by the line “Anyway, because I’m not sure if the two commenters caught it in the comments section, I am reposting the answers that they seek here”) I thought it was polite to express my thanks and the reason I had not responded.

    Jack and John P, If you have a problem with me making an effort to be polite and respectful, then perhaps I *should* start signing my posts “Charles Ulysses Farley.”

    BTW, Lauren’s recap of the responses to Wedgee’s questions (not counting the stuff about anonymous posting) was 1264 words. Wedgee’s response here was 150 words shorter than that. Lauren was gracious enough to reply respectfully.

    Respect garners respect. John P and Jack, are you intentionally trying to demonstrate that you don’t have the common decency that Lauren does? Be advised that said endeavor is successful.

    Comment by Steven M Scotten — November 7, 2014 @ 8:48 pm

  20. CUF,
    Trying to have LD’s common decency (oxymoron that it is…on this blog at least) and I can’t speak for John P but I have no intransigent decency demonstrating anything but my own opinions on any subject I choose to pick. Whether or not that endeavor pleases or not is not my concern.

    Comment by jack — November 7, 2014 @ 10:23 pm

  21. #20 Jack—

    My mistake. Carry on, and have a nice day.

    Comment by Steven M Scotten — November 7, 2014 @ 11:46 pm

  22. Sorry , did not have the chance to reply .
    Dave you made a good point .

    There was a lot of concern coming from peoples not in agreement with the Suncal project it got back at them .
    I personally did not agree with the Alameda Fire Dept driving around and removing all the elections signs they could find from any opponent , it was nothing but an attempt to silence the people , So I follow them around town and took photos of them doing so , they may not have realized it but what they did was totally illegal far more illegal than their fire Chief filling up his vehicle {something they all do whether it is public work or AFD , the scam work like that you fill the first City vehicle then fill your own and so on } it is expensive to drive from Fairfield , Paterson , Danville , Lafayette , San Ramon in the gas guzzling vehicle they drive .
    Unhappy with my post they went and search word press in order to uncover who was posting Something even more illegal as the owner of the site has very remote access to posters , I doubt Lauren even has access to IP address
    My beef with them is simple how someone making a paycheck in the City yet not leaving in it “too expensive” can
    get involved in the elections, while out of town property owner have no saying , kind of a double Standard .

    As per the Post about JKW , I found the idea funny and stupid , like if there would be a group ….
    I had Mr john White as a Client , yes He come from out of town aren’t we all , I am still still considered a newbie even after my family first came in the 1800….
    I have found Mr JKW , very down to earth , very much in the spirit of Alameda , renovating their House by themselves and did a hell of a good job at it , preserving the integrity of the neighborhood, something not many have done , and no even He has psychological degree according to some . He did not bargain or try to get special prices .
    Do I agree with all the bikes lane ,? NO

    Doug Dehaan was the only one sounding the alarm on Alameda Power and Telecom and the melting of countless millions of dollars , He was the only one asking the hard question on Suncal .
    City planer under the direction of that Bird who flew , were submitting as traffic survey fraudulent data , made by someone impersonating a traffic engineer when that one had no formal training and no certification .

    Fact is because of fraud perpetrated by former mayor decades ago all executives privileges were remove from the Mayor and Council , the City Manager and Staff run the City , everyone else are simply unpaid figures head without leverage on how the city is run .

    Comment by Joel Rambaud — November 8, 2014 @ 10:06 am

  23. Joel, the city manager serves at the will of the Mayor and council, they can hire and fire him.

    Comment by John P. — November 8, 2014 @ 2:24 pm

  24. 22. If you have evidence that fire department members (or any other City employees) are putting City owned fuels into their personal vehicles, then you should report it to the appropriate City personnel.
    Otherwise what you’re saying is slanderous and is not helpful to any discussions.

    Comment by dc — November 8, 2014 @ 2:30 pm

  25. 58 votes.

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — November 8, 2014 @ 6:08 pm

  26. D.C. , {another anonymous….}
    it work this way , they are issued a magnetic card which the use to initiate the “transaction”, as long as the card is on the reader they can fill as many vehicle as they want , the same scam is used in every city across California . the reason , there are No or minimum audit in tank capacity and actual miles driven , the City would be better off using private gas co.
    No they do not even bill them for using City truck to go fishing in the estuary ……Oakland PD thought the trucks were stolen ….
    They also send their cars and truck to be hand detailed during work and at tax payer dime or should we say Dollars …..
    A photo is worth a thousand words .

    Comment by Joel Rambaud — November 8, 2014 @ 10:19 pm

  27. John , I differ ,
    Check around , very much like City’s Employees feared Macnerio’s tantrum in which over 60% paid the price for disagreeing with Him {the sad untold story of Alameda public employees}

    Comment by Joel Rambaud — November 8, 2014 @ 10:29 pm

  28. I’m a little disappointed that Marie let the opposition frame her in a way which was not entirely accurate, as one Trish voter said to me, a person who “loves developers”. I can’t recall if it was a statement from Planning Board, which made me decide Marie should vie for appointment to Al De Witt’s spot, or if it was as a council person, but I distinctly recall Francis Collin’s first Boatworks project coming before some body Marie was on where she said “We know what the developer is getting out of this, but what does Alameda get”. That may not be an exact quote but I posted it as such because it definitely captures the spirit and the language is very close. I may not have spoken to her since she was elected four years ago and have had very few emails, so I can’t say I have a really good sense of where she is at these days, but I know enough to say that people who think she is out to sell Alameda down the river to developers are wrong.

    Comment by MI — November 9, 2014 @ 10:28 am

  29. oh, I want to also say that when Marie made this statement above it was the very first time I had ever heard anybody on all the boards and council speak that plainly. Up until Marie said those words, my feeling had been that there was a system in place which had emerging out of long standing old boys network which was not quite as insular, but was still very much based on following a protocol of associating with various recognized bodies like Chamber of Commerce, establishing one’s pedigree, and then vying for appointment to various boards as a way to climb the latter. There is actually nothing wrong with the expectation that a person prove themselves by doing work in the community, and this sort of thing is still expected, but the system was very “straight” and since then more avenues have opened up for people to get involved. It was a big deal when one of the Greens who had advocated for a transportation committee was actually appointed to one when it was created.

    When we moved here in 91′ Bill Withrow was mayor and there was a big hubbub over a perfectly fine single family home being demolished to provide space for the mini-mart at the Chevron station on the corner of Buena Vista and Park. There had been a smaller gas station there. I wasn’t dialed in to local politics, but that issue, and other dissatisfaction lead to Bill losing to Ralph. I can’t recall if Lil also ran or it that was next election. Anyhow, Ralph has passed and has had a street named after him so I don’t want to be skewering any sacred cows etc. but he could be a piece of work, did not always behave real well from the dais, but back then nobody called him on it. He once induced a woman to tears by badgering her when she spoke to council, as he had the habit of interrupting or at the very least, doing an instant editorial after each speaker if he felt like it. If I am making this up, somebody like John P., please correct me, but this is my memory. Anyhow, Russo is not an elected, but compared to Ralph the accusations made about him being some kind of bully are sort of ridiculous. That’s just my recollection, maybe a little revisionist.

    Another anecdote from that era. When FISC RFQ was happening and Catellus got the gig, one thing they did was to hire the developer of Marina Village as one of their officers who then came before Council to do soft shoe. It was completely transparent, but it worked. The mayor was so pleased about locking the deal with Catellus when this fellow came to speak for council, that he actually said we should some day erect a statue of the guy at the gateway to our city. To me it was an embarrassing and sickeningly fawning moment for a mayor, but there was never a peep of public comment in dissent.

    The theater may be the watershed for new era of activism. And during that period some people railed about how Bev Johnson abused her power at the podium, gave people the evil, was arrogant etc. Same people backed Trish too. A lot has changed since 1991 and then again not much.

    Comment by MI — November 9, 2014 @ 11:03 am

  30. The issues facing the city are so dirt simple all the bluster is boring:
    1. Scope of development: Trish is for slowing/halting. Marie may be more circumspect than those who surround her but it is clear she is on the side of more/faster compared to Trish.
    2. Public employee dollars: Marie is clearly cosy with the firefighters. Trish is not. People can decide which is more likely to result in lower cost contracts. I know what I think.
    3. Listening: Here people totally disagree and I think part of it is that human nature is to listen to those who you like/support you, but based on the campaign, Trish was clearly the winner in the campaign phase and it has been my experience, the better listener in general.

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — November 9, 2014 @ 11:26 am

  31. 26. Thank you for the explanation of how this fuel scam might work, but again I ask, do you have any evidence that this is happening in Alameda?

    Comment by dc — November 9, 2014 @ 11:55 am

  32. 30. I can generally agree with that. but what about the practical reality of thinking development can be “halted”? Is that what you favor? If so what of the consequences?

    Public dollars, there is no denying you are correct on the relation ship to public unions, but again Trish was the darling of teachers union which is in bed with fire fighters, AND when she ran they dropped her like a hot potato. It’s all contradictory and confused. Nationally, with Hunt bros. dollars I say thank god for labor influence on elections, but locally the fire fighters are a double edged sword. I really think labor should set the standard for an ideal for what all of us expect in terms of compensation, as opposed to a some sort of race to the bottom. People who are extreme in attacking labor are shooting themselves in the foot and being duped by 1% as much as anything.The other pragmatic aspect is that we in the private sector are the source of their compensation so maybe they could at least a little more like that is the case. Maybe I was most offended at the very start of IAFF fighting staffing cuts when they actually thought they had the right to legislate staffing with a ballot measure. That really indicated to me that these guys may be living in their own bubble with a sort of disconnect to the community they serve.

    Here’s a thought, maybe Trish will halt development to the point we have a municipal recession and they we can file bankruptcy and follow suit with Detroit. I’m sure that would be a perfect solution for lots of folks.

    As far as Trish being “clear winner”, WTF? If Marie won by as slim a margin we’d never hear the end of the caterwauling by her detractors. It only requires a single vote majority for a technical victory. I’ll leave it at that unless people start to make it out as a huge mandate for change. As for Trish being a “better listener”, do you have any first hand anecdotal examples to flesh that out and make it more credible? I have not taken it on myself to try to communicate with either candidate in a very long time, but from experiences I’ve sen on the boards they serve, I would give Marie the nod on that one. At the very best, your statement is completely subjective.

    It was pointed out to me that the numerical numbers of voters who constituted the 37% by which Marie was elected in a larger turnout are almost as many as the 50.0001% Trish appears to have gotten in this election.

    Comment by MI — November 9, 2014 @ 12:44 pm

  33. I meant that based on the meet and greets, Trish was out there more among the voting public. The perception, whether or not it was true, was she was more accessible. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — November 9, 2014 @ 7:47 pm

  34. Actually you wrote:

    Trish was clearly the winner in the campaign phase and it has been my experience, the better listener in general.

    Unless “in general” means something different.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 10, 2014 @ 6:08 am

  35. Yes, “in general” modified the clause that included “in my experience” so perhaps I did not communicate clearly or, more likely, you are showing your ungenerous (not nice) side. The “clearly the winner” statement is in the first clause of the sentence I wrote (a compound one linked by “and”). I could diagram the sentence for you, but I’m pretty sure that you know you are just being snarky.

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — November 10, 2014 @ 7:36 am

  36. Then perhaps you could offer examples, as Mark requested above.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 10, 2014 @ 7:41 am

  37. But I’m anonymous because I don’t want to be the target of your (and other’s) attack so my personal experience will have to stay personal. Please discount that part of my comment. You can accept or discount the question of whether my perception that Trish appeared more accessible during the campaign is true, but multiple commenters on this site stated the same thing.

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — November 10, 2014 @ 9:48 am

  38. I’m not quite sure why you insist on talking about it in context to the campaign because your “in general” implies outside of the campaign, which is why Mark asked for examples.

    I don’t think anyone disagrees that Trish Spencer was way more accessible during this campaign. She was also more agreeable at School Board meetings during the campaign as well, but it’s the idea of Trish Spencer being a better listener “in general” that requires clarification.

    Comment by Lauren Do — November 10, 2014 @ 10:06 am

  39. We simply have no disagreement. Exactly what you said. My “in general” is based on personal experience. It was a misunderstanding on Mark’s part about what I meant which I attempted to clarify. My clarification is incomplete for you. I don’t know why you insist on keeping with it except you want an abject apology for being imprecise in my language apparently or just want to win bragging rights about language usage. It’s your blog; front page this if you want, but I think it just highlights your pettiness.

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — November 10, 2014 @ 10:16 am

  40. If you want to see Trish’s personal listening skills in action, have a complaint against the district, or in near future, against the city. She will shower you with heartfelt attention and unwavering eye contact and will promise to carry your cause all the way. She means it, until the next complaint grabs her attention.

    I have experienced this with her personally. Several years ago during the primary school lottery controversy, she called me up and listened carefully and paid very close attention to my concerns. For a brief period I thought she really had our backs. It became clear very soon after, though, that Trish always has the back of whoever is complaining at a given moment, and for not much longer than that given moment.

    Since I pay very close attention to school issues, it wasn’t hard to figure out what her game was (and remains). It’s easy to see, though, how a person who doesn’t follow things closely would have that opinion of her continuously. This being the Bay Area, where complaint is our National Pastime, there’s always a good number of folks grinding an axe. If she makes a fair portion of them think she’s in their camp, she gets their votes for life. When AEA was caterwauling about a Superintendent who wanted to enforce standards of professionalism, she gave them the Trish Treatment and won their endorsement, but notice that she isn’t carrying their water any longer. When the anti-gay bigots were railing about the mere existence of gay people, she played them too. She isn’t advocating for them any more either but I bet most of that crowd still supports her based on that one little memory. I suspect the Del Monte neighbors will have a decent opinion of her for a long time, even if she votes to pave paradise and leave out the parking lot.

    It’s good retail politics: pretend to care about as many people as you can and throw in a few warm handshakes and boom, you get elected to something.

    Comment by dave — November 10, 2014 @ 10:17 am

  41. 37.there is little point in pursuing this but not all anecdotal examples of personal experience need be so explicit as to reveal your identity. Dave’s example of lottery would be a case in point. I don’t have your grasp of rules of grammar, but “in general” is pretty unambiguous and I don’t think I misunderstood it at all. I think you over stated what can be objectively substantiated, at least unless you substantiate it, and now you’re just making excuses. “people can be unreasonable” is even ambiguous. We can infer that you probably have a certain group in mind, but otherwise it is very open ended. An odd choice for somebody who has such a grasp of language, in terms of capturing precise intent anyway.

    Comment by MI — November 10, 2014 @ 10:38 am

  42. We all understand each other perfectly now. 1. Trish was the clear winner in demonstrating the quality of listening during the campaign. Whether that was transitory or not. In other words, whether she possesses that quality “in general” remains to be seen. 2. My “in general” refers to personal experience and is no longer applicable to the discussion because I will not substantiate it. My apologies to you (sincere because it apparently has added confusion) to adding it in. Everyone happy?

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — November 10, 2014 @ 11:00 am

  43. 42. just found this. sure, fine, done. But your experience is your experience and it is limited to one person. Do you have similar experience with Marie? I’m not asking if she provided the opportunities, I’m asking whether you sought her out and then felt she didn’t listen? I’m assuming you did not so it’s all academic moot etc.

    Comment by MI — November 18, 2014 @ 5:39 pm


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