Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 26, 2015

Then you act real rude to me

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

OMG, I finally made it through the Wednesday meeting and — as I stated before — what a waste of time.  So, as a reminder this is what the agenda item was set as:

Discuss City Council Rules and Procedures for City Council Meetings and the Possibility of Holding a Future City Hall Open House.

And the staff report had a link to a bunch of the rules and procedures that currently exist and the background to this agenda item was:

The Mayor is requesting to give the new Council and members of the public an opportunity to discuss the existing practices and protocols for the conduct of City business, including how the Mayor and/or individual Councilmembers may refer matters to the entire City Council for consideration, the start time and length of meetings, the order in which items are heard, continuation of agenda items to future meetings, teleconferencing and use of electronic devices, just to name a few.

This should have been a very straightforward conversation and would have been fairly helpful, but the discussion went off the rails early on and then ended up being a huge complaining session about how horrible the last administration was. .

It was such a puzzling agenda item because the exercise, if I understood it correctly because the discussion was all over the place, was even though there are protocols in place that there should be discussion on how the protocol and procedures could be made better.  The only thing that it, appeared, that Trish Spencer wanted to change was to make the City Council more like the School Board when it came to specific agenda items.  Specifically, she wanted to be able to explain her “no” votes, when she made them which is something that is codified into the School Board rules, but not in the rules for the City Council.  Other than that Trish Spencer was pleased with the comments from the public which ranged from the helpful of “hey, you know the AV needs a little work” to “man the last mayor was so mean to us by not letting us clap and Trish Spencer is awesome because she makes us feel welcome.”

At one point I had really given up on any meaningful progress being done until Frank Matarrese offered up the suggestion of forming a rules subcommittee of two City Council members to work on tightening up some of the existing documents around how meetings are conducted.  Perfection.  But that got sidelined for a bit longer and while Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft was beginning to actually make some headway into meaningful discussion about some of the procedural issues, Trish Spencer decided to cut her off by adjourning the meeting while Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft was in mid-thought:

So to recap, Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft was trying to redirect the discussion back to the agenda at hand and suggest that the City Council move forward with

  1. Consolidation of the existing rules and procedures
  2. Creation of the Rules subcommittee and offered to sit on that panel with Frank Matarrese to do the work in item 1
  3. Limit the number of referrals, if possible, for each meeting
  4. Request that all agenda items from the City Council (including the Mayor) be placed on the agenda through the Council Referral process

All of these, which were moving the discussion along, was stated in less than two minutes (lest someone complain about Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft being long winded) but she was shut down by Trish Spencer who “adjourned” the meeting because of the time.

But here’s the part that is hypocritical on the part of Trish Spencer.  She, ostensibly, added this agenda item because she felt as though there was something missing in the way that the City Council did business and ran the meetings.  The whole exercise was to offer alternatives to how things have been done previously.  A departure from how it’s “always been done.”   When Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft offered the suggestion the agenda items from the City Council, including from the Mayor, be placed on the agenda through the Referral process so that there could be some narrative as to why the agenda item was being offered for consideration, Trish Spencer balked.  She balked and then said that it’s always been done “in the past” that the Mayor works with city staff to draft the agenda and then adjourned the meeting.

I guess it’s rude to ask people not to clap, but not rude to adjourn a meeting when your colleague hasn’t finished speaking yet.



  1. this is just like watching those “reality television” shows, only it cannot be cancelled.

    Comment by John P. — January 26, 2015 @ 7:36 am

  2. was Spencer correct that she didn’t need to make a motion to adjourn?

    Comment by MI — January 26, 2015 @ 8:59 am

  3. MI: I don’t know for sure because Roberts Rules of Order are not used by the City Council. Maybe, she didn’t. However, she did need to complete out the agenda before she adjourned the meeting, which had yet to be done. There was at least five more minutes of meeting after she tried to adjourn, and it’s clear from the video that Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft had not yet completed her remarks either.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 26, 2015 @ 9:02 am

  4. Based on a quick scan of the documents provided for the agenda item referenced above, the rules established for the City Council: Resolution 12567 and the Sunshine Ordinance, those two documents are silent about the specifics on how to adjourn a meeting. It just says that meetings must be adjourned by 11:00 p.m. or there must be a motion to continue past 11:00 p.m. However, Resolution 12567 says that:

    All other matters not covered by these rules shall be decided by a majority of the Council. Robert’s Rules of Order may be used as a guide

    And Robert’s Rules of Order does require a motion to be made to adjourn.

    This would have been an excellent subject to cover for, oh, I don’t know, a discussion about City Council Rules and Procedures or maybe even a Rules subcommittee.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 26, 2015 @ 9:20 am

  5. I’m still not sure what actually happened/didn’t happen at that meeting, but Frank’s suggestion that they drop the standing rules, or keep them and add on adoption of Robert’s Rules of Order caused my heart to palpitate. It took about 15 min to talk it down, even the CA reacted. Can you imagine what a meeting would be like with that thrown in? They can’t manage what they have now for procedure.
    Frankly, I find the procedures followed from the posting of the first new council sessions through this last one to be unsettling. I’m not so well-versed in municipal law to be able to say that anything is illegal, but there has been enough circumvention that I think it is arguable that transparency, the public’s right to know, and simple good government are at issue. I was really hoping to get some explanation of procedure and R&R at that last meeting so I could feel comfortable with what’s been happening, but there was nothing. No presentations, no itemized perusal, no this is what we did and why.
    I understand that in a court of law, the presiding judge can recess a trial when s/he wants and recommence when s/he wants, but a city council is not a court of law and a mayor is not a presiding judge. There are rules about when things can come up in a council meeting. How is it possible that the mayor can recess a regular meeting at 1:30 am and reconvene that meeting on top of a previously scheduled meeting that same day? This is including shoving the scheduled meeting back 4 hours, then adjourning the scheduled meeting in the middle of a discussion. People went home on Tues or 1:30 not knowing they would have to come back in a few hours for their item. The only people who were there for the referrals were people who were privately informed one way or another. There is no possibility of public input if there is no public notice and no real scheduling of events.

    Comment by Li_ — January 26, 2015 @ 9:49 am

  6. Li_ add to the fact that the video has not been made available yet for the Tuesday meeting, unless you were notified by someone who attended, there was no way to review Tuesday’s meeting to know if the Referrals had been addressed if you (1) left early and (2) didn’t continue watching from home.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 26, 2015 @ 9:56 am

  7. As I age my memory might not serve well, but to the best of my recollection wicked witch Marie and every other mayor previously, made motions for adjournment. I’m certain that was the case all four years I spent on HAB, but rules for majority votes on HAB were different than council until they were aligned by the electorate in ballot measure. Blows my mind that meeting was actually not finished and was allowed to continue without a motion and second. People can think I am extremely petty which I may be, but I don’t think so because the bottom line here is principle. It gets my hackles up when a group or individual makes a big stink about the behavior of an individual or a majority of a body but when the tables are turned they are complete hypocrites and end up making equally egregious actions. Maybe they think it’s o.k. because they feel they are motivated by a higher calling, but that doesn’t change the principle. It’s the hypocrisy that burns more than individual actions, but I’m keeping score for sure ’cause those individual actions are adding up quickly. 124 votes is no mandate and no electoral majority absolves the contradiction. Spencer’s champion Paul ( Foster?) hailed her a great “critical thinker”, but I have yet to see it. (Joni Ernst, Sarah Palin)

    Comment by MI — January 26, 2015 @ 10:06 am

  8. Thanks Mrs Mayor ,
    It is time to put an end to these meeting which many of us have attended until the post opening of that breakfast place around the corner .
    When you are an elected official which has run on a background of higher education , you need to learn how to express yourself without these Hum,Huh I don’t know, which took the better part of that minute recording ” GET TO THE POINT”
    It appear the Mayor is falling right in the City Manager way of interpreting democracy .
    This does not mean no transparency or public input .

    Comment by Joel Rambaud — January 26, 2015 @ 10:23 am

  9. It is time to put an end to these meeting which many of us have attended until the post opening of that breakfast place around the corner .

    Tuesday, January 20th meeting ran until 1:30 a.m. The one prior to that ran very late as well, necessitating the continuance of five referral items until the January 20th meeting which was then continued until January 21st.

    So how again is Trish Spencer running her meetings tighter? Oh by interrupting another member who had the floor in violation of the rules established by Resolution 12567:

    Interruptions. A member , once recognized , shall not be interrupted when speaking unless it be to call the member to
    order, or as herein otherwise provided. If a member while speaking, be called to order , the member shall cease speaking until the question of order be determined, and if in order , said member shall be permitted to proceed.

    Also, within less than one minute Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft was able to articulate four points which I pointed out above:

    1. Consolidation of the existing rules and procedures
    2. Creation of the Rules subcommittee and offered to sit on that panel with Frank Matarrese to do the work in item 1
    3. Limit the number of referrals, if possible, for each meeting
    4. Request that all agenda items from the City Council (including the Mayor) be placed on the agenda through the Council Referral process

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 26, 2015 @ 10:30 am

  10. wow. I was going to defer watching the school board selection meetings, but was again sucked in by the fascinating array of resumes and found it very helpful to have deeper insight into qualifications of candidates. Where were some of these folks during the recent election? I came away realizing that maybe it’s good thing Spencer is mayor because the school issues, most notably the bond, are so critical that we are lucky to a) have the opportunity to infuse the board with additional perspective one of these great candidates will bring and b) have Spencer no longer on the board. I think it may be a good thing that the constituents have the opportunity to hash out differences over critical city issues, so in the immediate short term we may be able to really get clear about important city issues like development, so hopefully there will be less doubt about the direction in which we are headed and also leave little doubt about whether a cabal is running the town. Meanwhile I think the council over all may be strong enough to endure truly weak leadership, more than the BOE being able to endure more contentiousness.

    Comment by MI — January 26, 2015 @ 12:26 pm

  11. Spencer couldn’t wait to end discussion when Ashcraft made point 4 about leveling the power of mayor to that of peers on council. careful what you ask for Trish. Trish is all about democracy until she has to let go some power. It is not like Marilyn moved to revamp powers of mayor entirely. The mayor still gets to nominate board appointments. Traditionally the council is pro forma in rubber stamping selections by our mayors, but if Spencer appoints somebody like Tremain to something like Planning Board I hope she gets push back from the dais.

    Comment by MI — January 26, 2015 @ 12:50 pm

  12. 10. Wow, is right. How did Alameda foist such an incompetent mayor on the city, just because they don’t want her on the school board anymore. Finally, had a chance to watch the meeting, and Spencer is a freaking disaster and embarrassment. She didn’t do her homework, and she gets an “F.” She didn’t read Roberts Rules of Order, much less the existing rules and regulations or the the Sunshine Ordinance. We need to recall this disaster before she represents us at other meetings.

    Comment by Alan — January 26, 2015 @ 2:05 pm

  13. He, he…I think you need a motion to adjourn, don’t you….No…well the meeting was adjourned without a motion to adjourn so the mayor was right you don’t need a motion to adjourn or the meeting would still be going on and it very well may be still going on since the clip stopped and adjourned without a motion to adjourn so the clip may still be going on too.

    Comment by jarfree — January 26, 2015 @ 2:38 pm

  14. 1. Could we call this a “teachable moment” and have Staff offer a short “teach-in” for Trish? Bring her up to speed on the history, policies, procedures and protocol of the City Council and the Mayor’s role in particular? 2) aside from the gaffs made verbally, the non-verbal cues associated with her words do not say “mutuality” but “confrontation”. We assume she wants to be this way. Perhaps she was never enlightened into the complex components that go into civic leadership (and human civility). This too can be brought to her attention (whether or not she cares is entirely different). Items 1) and 2) can in fact be taught. Also, am I the only one with difficulty understanding her speak? Sounds like she has cotton in her mouth.

    Comment by Gabrielle Dolphin — January 26, 2015 @ 3:57 pm

  15. Oh, and one final question: Is there formal recourse to address these issues within the City Government? Has a mayor ever been impeached? Confess this is a rather drastic place to go this early in the unfolding….but what the heck! This blog is like the wild west, right? :0)

    Comment by Gabrielle Dolphin — January 26, 2015 @ 4:19 pm

  16. Give Trish a break, her mission is to “fundamentally change Alameda” so she, at least, should be given the same slack you all gave Obumbler.

    Comment by jack — January 26, 2015 @ 6:08 pm

  17. post #12, Alan, I will just go with your post, we have four more years of this, and at some point even Jack will wear down.

    Comment by John P. — January 26, 2015 @ 6:22 pm

  18. John, she’s a valued member of the Democrat Party, I don’t claim her.

    Comment by jack — January 26, 2015 @ 6:26 pm

  19. sorry Jack, she’s yours, “TEA PARTY” .

    Comment by John P. — January 26, 2015 @ 6:33 pm

  20. A Cal liberal arts grad a Tea Party member…good try John. We should be so lucky! I absolutely love how MI and other water dwelling air breathers try to demonize one of your own by shifting her party allegiance.

    Comment by jack — January 26, 2015 @ 6:59 pm

  21. I’m agree with MI. There’s something chillingly Palinesque about Spencer. Alas Sarah, not Michael.

    Comment by BC — January 26, 2015 @ 7:57 pm

  22. Before Christ, and that’s a good thing right?

    Comment by jack — January 26, 2015 @ 8:48 pm

  23. Councilmember Ezzy-Ashcraft was correct: a motion for adjournment requires a vote. Situations in which adjournment can take place without a motion are:

    1. When the hour adopted for adjournment has arrived. The chair announces the fact, and unless you or someone else is pretty quick to move to set aside the orders of the day, the meeting may be adjourned by declaration. Note that Mayor Spencer simply stated that it was past the hour SHE wanted the meeting to go; i.e., there was no adopted hour for adjournment.

    2. When you reach the end of the agenda. The chair may just ask whether there’s any more business; if you don’t speak up to make that motion you’ve been thinking about, and if no one else speaks up, the presiding officer can declare the meeting adjourned. Clearly, the end of the agenda had not been reached as Councilmember Ezzy-Ashcraft was speaking on an agenda item and Mayor Spencer cut her off.

    Comment by rmhausman — January 26, 2015 @ 11:17 pm

  24. Very dumb discussion by the usual suspects- move on, nothing to see here…

    Comment by Breathless — January 27, 2015 @ 6:13 am

  25. 24, nothing here, really? sorry, usual suspects or not, that is a very dumb observation. Spencer is a pending train wreck.

    Comment by MI — January 27, 2015 @ 7:52 am

  26. 20. Trish lied about being a Cal Graduate … she had to retract during a recent interview. She went to UC Santa Barbara. Not enough critical thinking skills for a Cal.Bear.

    Comment by Alan — January 27, 2015 @ 1:10 pm

  27. I just assumed that she started at UC Santa Barbara and transferred to UC Berkeley. I believe that is the track of a lot of students.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 27, 2015 @ 1:43 pm

  28. “…Spencer is a pending train wreck.”

    A train moves from station to station at a set pace and usually has a human operating the engine controls. In order for the train to wreck something out of the ordinary has to happen. Some of the worst train wrecks in history were:

    December 2004, Cause: tsunami waves struck a train in Sri Lanka 1700+ people died

    June 1981, Cause: High winds or brake failure caused an eight car train to plunge off a bridge outside of Calcutta, India, death toll 608+

    January 1944, Cause: A 12 car express train from Madrid lost its brakes and ran into the back of a three car freight train in a tunnel 500+ died

    March 1944, Cause: A 45 car freight train with an estimated 700 people riding in the freight cars. The train stalled in the mile long Armi tunnel near Balvano Italy due to wet tracks, steep grade and heavy load and all the 530 humans were asphyxiated.

    June 1972, Cause: The mile-long tunnel north of Paris France collapsed causing the collision of two trains in the tunnel 108 died.

    February/March 1910, Cause: A blizzard struck the Cascade Mountains near Tye Washington causing two trains to stall in snow drifts east of the Cascade tunnel. Some passenger took refuge in the railroad bunkhouse and nearby cottages most passenger stayed in the train cars which were heated by coal burning stoves. However, the outside temperatures rose and a thunderstorm triggered an avalanche that struck the depot area carrying the trains into a gorge and killing 96 people.

    June 1989, Near the town of Asha, Russia a huge liquefied gas leak occurred and was ignited by two oncoming passenger trains. The explosion burned all 38 cars and killed 575 passengers.

    Since Alameda got rid of all their trains and even changed the name of Railroad Avenue to Lincoln and if we’re real careful with our waves, winds, brakes, tubes, blizzards and gas leaks and since all the above occurred in winter or spring, looks to me like if we can hold out till after June with Spencer, we may be out of train wreck danger.

    Comment by jack — January 27, 2015 @ 1:47 pm

  29. are you done Jack? it’s a fucking expression ( expletive for emphasis). I’ll rephrase. She is “a train wreck waiting to happen” or perhaps in progress.

    Ignoring the fact this election outcome may have been different in not for turn extremely low turn out, I will operate on premise that the will of the people is evenly split with regard to development. Further, I share general concern about any number of impacts from development from traffic to traffic. My strategy in trying to figure all this out is to try to err on the side of the long view, with specific emphasis on the inevitability of population increase, the recognition that land value under capitalist system would require some kind of government intervention in order to halt development, and the probability that in the next 100 years we will probably come to see concerns about density as “white people problems”. So, I look forward to the citizenry having a vigorous fact based debate to try to sort all this stuff out during the next couple years.

    My problem with Trish Spencer is entirely separate. Yesterday I had the epiphany that her absence from BOE is actually serendipitous, taking precedent over negative impacts on City government which is better able to survive her weak leadership skills.

    During the election there was all manner of throw the bums out and “anybody but incumbents” from anti-development/pro Spencer quarter. I was probably alone in going negative about the “anybody but the incumbents” slate and specifically criticizing Spencer as a liability for City government. I regretted that distinction but felt somebody should say it.

    In two posts on this blog, “Bill” has taken the middle road of being supportive of Gilmore’s record as a capable mayor, while asking patience with regard to Spencer. I tried to defer, but what makes my blood boil is that Ms. Spencer appears entirely self absorbed and focused on her being mayor, while the issues which swept her into office and “the will of the people” are secondary. I think a vast majority of voters had no idea about the details of her BOE tenure and relatively few are watching closely now

    In the absence of Spencer putting a finer point on her own referral item, Councilwoman Ashcraft made valiant attempt to condense a proposal in four succinct points which arguably might address the issues at hand, but Spencer abruptly and without discussion dismissed them out of hand. This pattern of vaguery and loquaciousness does not bode well. If anybody close to the mayor has any common sense maybe they will council her to get a grip.

    Comment by MI — January 27, 2015 @ 9:56 pm

  30. Ashcraft is going to be one of the critical stabilizing forces for the next few years.

    Comment by Alison — January 28, 2015 @ 9:43 am

  31. Agree Alison. Ashcraft IS stabilizing force. We have here a failyah to communcate. We need principles not personality. We need principles to guide, not a personality (and followers) that leads down whatever road is “up” for the day.

    Comment by Gabrielle Dolphin — January 28, 2015 @ 9:57 am

  32. Spencer was a failure on the school board and has shown nothing to indicate her term(s?!) as mayor will be any different. Alameda made a huge mistake replacing an intelligent and competent mayor with Spencer. We’ve one-upped Oakland, which finally elected a superior mayor to us after two misfires.

    Comment by Larry Witte — January 28, 2015 @ 10:58 am

  33. 29
    Post title

    Comment by jack — January 28, 2015 @ 7:24 pm

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