Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 11, 2015

Public enmity

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

Back to that epic City Council meeting, although I really want to write about the Planning Board meeting from Monday night, ooh boy was that some meeting too, but I’ll go through that some other time.  Stop being so interesting City Council and City Boards and Commissions.  Stop, I can’t keep up.

Anyway, during that City Council meeting from last week, there was an agenda item about the Main Street Area for Alameda Point and whether or not to execute a contract with a consultant company — paid for by a grant from MTC — to start the planning process for that area.  According to City Staff the consultant was vetted through staff and a panel with community members represented.   Trish Spencer decided that she was going to ask about which community members were on the panel.  Here’s how the dialogue went.

Trish Spencer: Do you know specifically, what people were involved on the panel from the, uh, community that are not, uh, staff members?

Staff: It was Doug Biggs from APC as well as Dania Alvarez, was that her last name? Dania Alvarez and I don’t know the name of the woman from the Alameda Association of Realtors, Anne…

Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft: DeBardeleben

Staff: Thank you, that’s a tough one

Trish Spencer: So there was really one member of the public, Anne DeBardeleben, because Doug Biggs works for APC and Dania is on our Commission.

Staff: But…

Trish Spencer: Thank you.

Note that the initial question that Trish Spencer asked was who was involved from the community that is not a STAFF member.  She then dismisses both Dania Alvarez and Doug Biggs as members of the public because Doug Biggs works for APC and Dania Alvarez volunteers for the Planning Board.

I’m not sure if Trish Spencer realizes that neither Dania Alvarez nor Doug Biggs are members of staff because APC is not a City agency, it is a non profit and volunteering for a public board does not make you staff either.  I realize this is highly nuanced stuff.

I didn’t realize that with Mayorship came the ability to revoke ones membership as a part of the community or a member of the public.  The best part of the exchange was the confused look on the face of the staff member in the face of this logic and the weakly offered “But…” that was shut down by Trish Spencer offering her thanks.

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38 Comments

  1. The process by which people are recommended for hiring who will then recommend further development has been seized by the pro- development groups. This is a tired but effective process in America. Don’t other council members get this? Spencer’s method was the same one a lawyer uses in cross- examination to make her point.

    Comment by Breathless — March 11, 2015 @ 6:30 am

  2. Tell me again how being employed by a non profit and being a volunteer equals being employed by the City of Alameda as a staff person.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 11, 2015 @ 6:38 am

  3. As vettors go, I’d be glad to have Biggs, with an obvious interest in the people of the Point and Alverez, with a working knowledge of what our planning process entails. Adding in an active and community savvy realtor makes for a solid committee for the job. We are lucky to have skilled people willing to give us their time and energy. Wonder, why does the rest of the council let Trish run? They seem to be mesmerized by her performances to the point that they don’t step in and correct situations. Pretty soon they are all going to be cloaked in Trishness.

    Comment by Li_ — March 11, 2015 @ 7:47 am

  4. Does Trish reasoning apply to how she can’t speak “as a member of the public” at board and commission meetings? Oops, we forgot she is a hypocrite.

    Comment by Alan — March 11, 2015 @ 9:21 am

  5. Yeah, she seems to be trying to have it both ways…a member of the public, when she addresses various boards, despite being mayor; and not recognizing others as members of the public because, well, they are on boards. Sorry, breathless, but you can’t dress this up as her being our Island Cicero. At its most benign, this is simple incoherence of thought.

    Comment by BC — March 11, 2015 @ 9:34 am

  6. More to the point, Doug Biggs, Anne DeBardeleben, and Dania Alvarez should be described as “stakeholders”. It is true they are not Staff, but I don’t think of them as general members of the public, either. Maybe they should be described as “the usual suspects”. I hate to lump Dania in with the other two, as Biggs and DeBardeleben have been selected to represent the community by the Gilmore loyalists for years. I’m glad Dania was selected. But then why pick another realtor, who specializes in high-end homes, like DeBardeleben?

    The grab bag of “usual suspects” picked by Staff to represent the community is quite small and usually predictable, but does it even come close to representing the 75,000+ Alamedans who will be affected by their decisions? Methinks not.

    Comment by vigi — March 11, 2015 @ 10:00 am

  7. Worse than having my citizenship revoked, she also unfriended me on facebook. I’m devastated. APC partnered with the City on the grant application, so I had a very legitimate reason for being on the selection panel, but that doesn’t take away my designation as a member of the public. Every member of the public that comes to speak has a vested interest in Alameda, just like I do. It is more the way the question was asked that was troubling. It felt like a cross examination where the intent was to expose wrong doing, rather than probing to determine that the selection panel was well qualified to make a recommendation (which it was). In the end though, I think everyone got the answers they needed to feel comfortable with the project, and we are delighted and grateful to the Mayor and Council that they voted 5-0 and we can begin moving forward on planning for a vibrant community that includes APC as an integral component.

    Comment by Doug Biggs — March 11, 2015 @ 10:02 am

  8. Worse than having my citizenship revoked, she also unfriended me on facebook.

    Well you are no longer her constituent, so of course she unfriended you!

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 11, 2015 @ 10:08 am

  9. Most of the time, the community at large has no idea who was selected as “qualified” to “represent” them. 3 people, and 2 are realtors? No wonder Alamedans are cynical about the process. It really doesn’t involve us much at all. And that is why Trish asks those questions. It is about time somebody did! That’s why WE elected her!

    Comment by vigi — March 11, 2015 @ 10:21 am

  10. You elected Trish Spencer to ask questions about the composition of a selection committee to then have her conflate being employed by a non profit or sitting as volunteer as being a member of City Staff? Okaaaayyyy…..

    Who would be more appropriate than Doug Biggs to sit on a selection committee to pick a consultant to design the Main Street area for Alameda Point?

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 11, 2015 @ 10:29 am

  11. As usual, Trish is proving to be a poor vessel to deliver the sometimes reasonable arguments that the “stop everything” crowd wish to make. Had she finished her cross examination of staff by saying that “we need to do a better job of engaging a broad swath of community input, not just highly involved insiders,” she would have a leg to stand on. Instead, like always, she ham-fists it. She is doing permanent damage to that side of the city’s political class.

    Comment by BMac — March 11, 2015 @ 10:53 am

  12. methinks YOU are the one doing the “conflating”, Ms Do. And doing the deflecting. I think whoever is running the APC is always appropriate for the Main Street area design committee. But there is a lot more going on in that area than just APC. http://alamedaca.gov/sites/default/files/department-files/2014-09-11/complete_main_street_specific_plan_rfp.pdf

    On page one of this document, we are reminded that the Main Street Area is a “character-defining aspect of the NAS Historic District”. As a card-carrying historical consultant to the NAS Historic District and the VA, and former 5-year member of the Alameda Museum Board of Directors myself, I’m wondering why Staff didn’t select an architect or some member of AAPS for this selection committee. God knows there are enough folks with historical chops in this town to choose from [Dick Rutter, Chris Buckley, Jim Smallman , to name a few]

    Remember, MTC = PlanBayArea and all that implies….

    Comment by vigi — March 11, 2015 @ 10:55 am

  13. Not that it matters to folks like vigi, but so far, 3 different people of the “we” who elected Citizen Spencer have already told me over dinner that they realize what a terrible mistake that they made. “Power-grabby” was the phrase one used and I won’t mention the impolite word another used. Let’s just say that the bloom went off their rose very quickly. They were hoping for the best but unless she gets real smart and real fast about doing what is good for Alameda overall and not what is good for herself and a small group of followers- 2 mentioned recall already which was surprising since they voted for her. The whole Citizen Spencer thing was especially grating to them and losing Russo for some reason also. me- I am just enjoying the spectacle so far.

    Comment by librarycat — March 11, 2015 @ 11:14 am

  14. virgi, did you ask any of those people if they wanted to be on the committee? You have a lot of opinions but most of them are just bitching and of no substance. I for one didn’t elect trish and am amused by someone who seems to be in a power struggle with herself while making a fool of her position as mayor…she appears to be clueless. No, I don’t ask because want to be on the board…I like you just like to bitch, although I do make it to a meeting now and then.

    Comment by Jake. — March 11, 2015 @ 11:16 am

  15. Not my job, Jake. I am not “Staff”.

    Comment by vigi — March 11, 2015 @ 11:19 am

  16. Surprised to see the recall option whispered at this early stage. Did people not know who they were voting for? Obviously not. Although I am 110% against Spencer as mayor (to use some Spencer math), I would not support a recall. Recalls are to be reserved for the corrupt, and Spencer is not that. We (not me) voted Trish as mayor and we should live with the consequences. My hope is that in 3.75 years the community does the right thing and votes her out.

    Comment by Larry Witte — March 11, 2015 @ 12:01 pm

  17. Funny, I was at Rock Wall few Fridays evenings ago with my wife chit-chatting with a group of Encinal staff and teachers. They were all abuzz because the Mayor was supposed to meet them there for a couple glasses of wine. She showed up and they surrounded her like she was the queen of Sheba, ie. finding her the the best seat…concerned it might be too chilly for her outside, even asked me if I would take pictures of the group with the mayor in the middle, which I did, then she insisted someone take a picture of her with me which someone did. While we were still there muchos other people came over and chit-chatted with her. Finally the the whole group decided it was too cold and transferred themselves to the dome.

    The next week on Friday evening different group different Mayor. This group was in the dome attending a meeting of some sort or other, League of Female Democrat voters or something…my niece (Deb Wright of Wright Way Designs) was part of the group told me about it and we noticed the group in the dome. However, while we were there nobody seemed to notice this Mayor in plain sight. What’s funny is how one mayor who everybody here thinks is a dumb jerk is so well liked in the real world and the other one who is so revered here is oh-hummed in the real world.

    Guess the clowder of 13’s library cats don’t frequent the Wall.

    Comment by jack — March 11, 2015 @ 2:34 pm

  18. Yeah Jack, we know, your criteria for electing someone to office is their likability factor. No one ever said Trish Spencer wasn’t immensely likable. I’m sure she’s fun at parties and an awesome dancer. But she wasn’t a very good School Board member and she’s failing pretty hard at running a meeting competently. That happens to be my criteria. Not how many people recognize someone in public and fawn over them.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 11, 2015 @ 2:40 pm

  19. Wasn’t Trish’s only yes vote on the education board to increase teachers’ pay? I hope they bought her drinks too. George Bush seems like he’d more fun than Obama, but doesn’t mean I’d want him as president again.

    Comment by BC — March 11, 2015 @ 3:07 pm

  20. Funny- one of the people who told me that she regretted her vote is a friend of the mayor’s. She said that she liked her a lot personally but it had become clear quickly that while she is a nice person (great fun at parties) but way, way out of her league. She was displeased that the mayor seemed much more interested in her personal opinions and personal story telling (the whole dragged myself and the family up by the bootstraps thing) than in what she was going to do for Alameda. As far as she could tell- there was no plan anywhere- just talk a lot and say no a lot.
    Jack: I do spend plenty of time at the Wall as occasions arise and I know both of the mayors (former and new) – I prefer quiet and competent over “let me tell you a story about when I was 15” anytime. A little less glad-handing and lot more listening would be good- however, in order to listen- you have to stop talking. I have no confidence that our Mayor will do that. perhaps she will learn when the glam wears off and more people expect actual results. All I know so far is that 3 (in my tiny realm) have already turned away from the glow that is Citizen Spencer and have no plans to continue to support the mayor going forward.

    Comment by librarycat — March 11, 2015 @ 3:30 pm

  21. Yup, gotta run that meeting incompetently so you’ll have grist for your mill. You and her must be in cahoots. She entertains, you lampoon. Great team.

    Comment by jack — March 11, 2015 @ 3:43 pm

  22. clowder of one

    “..in what she was going to do for Alameda.” That’s the thing. The Liberal Progressives want nothing more than to elect officials that reflect exactly what MI says ..more “big guvment” whether it’s local, state, or fed. More regulations more control and that’s how they’re measured. Too bad Alameda has such good weather.

    Comment by jack — March 11, 2015 @ 3:55 pm

  23. 17. I’d rather have someone competent than friendly. I posted a nice item about my daughter’s 5th grade Destination Imagination team last month on FB. A friend liked it, and a friend of hers, Spencer, liked it. Yeah, it was kind of cool having the mayor like something my daughter and classmates did, but this is the same person who opposed the bond measure to fix our crumbling schools. Give me Gilmore any day, even if she doesn’t like anything the kids in AUSD do, either on FB or in real life.

    Comment by Larry Witte — March 11, 2015 @ 3:55 pm

  24. well Jack- your argument would hold more water = except that, interesting enough- 2 of the 3 people who say that they made a mistake, are hardcore. conservative republicans and the most disappointed one is also a tea partier:) She doesn’t want big government- she wants competent government with a actual plan and she now realizes that is not going to happen. She misses Gilmore- I almost fell off my chair when she said that. I am not in cahoots with anyone. Don’t need to be. .

    Comment by librarycat — March 11, 2015 @ 4:47 pm

  25. No it’s LD that’s in cahoots. She feeds on TS.

    Comment by jack — March 11, 2015 @ 5:22 pm

  26. It’s Big Gubmint Jack with a “b”, and there is no reason to try to divide along those line, liberal progressive blah, blah. I have a couple friends who I know voted for her because they liked her but haven’t talked to them before or after election. I’m surprised anybody who has been a close friend to Trish could be surprised. I’ve been around her socially at teacher functions and LWV activities and my personal impressions from that could be summed as daffy. But everybody who cared had six years to get the important part at BOE meetings. I knew she knew me as publicly opinionated, I thought maybe as hostile to charters. She knew my wife was an ex-lawyer teacher at the time who had been doing leg work for what became Robles-Wong suit. She sidled up to me outside a LWV function and started to prattle about something in a way that indicated she was not aware I was opposed. Can’t recall the topic but I’ve kept this impression with me. Anyhow i hadn’t spoken with her directly before so didn’t confront her about what impressed me as obtuse presumption on her part, so I just kind of nodded and disappeared cause I was leaving anyway. In many cases I do object to what Trish is trying to stand for or the causes she thinks she represents but my primary concern is far more fundamental. And that is that she is wasting precious time of people on both sides of issues. I haven’t seen Dick Rutter or Chris Buckley in a very long time, but I’d be very curious to talk about Trish with them because I respect them both and could easily have a civil disagreement with them over a number of things. But then there are Trish’s minions! Guys like Kurt Petersen who seem to be as whack as Trish.

    Comment by MI — March 11, 2015 @ 5:59 pm

  27. It doesn’t matter to me if LD. has a pathological addiction to being snarky about TS. Did Spencer open with query about who was on committee or did she even wait to hear the report? She did end up voting yes I guess. Kurt Petersen who is a total nimrod would be a great pick cause he is true member of the public? This woman can’ t even pick up on simple contradictions for cryin out loud! Which I’m doing right know. God save the queen.

    Comment by MI — March 11, 2015 @ 6:06 pm

  28. four more years, and many many four to one votes, so I guess we will be O.K.,,, The Mayor can nominate someone to a board or commission, however it has to be voted on by the council, so things could get real ugly for the Mayor.

    Comment by John P. — March 11, 2015 @ 8:29 pm

  29. Jack, it kinda sounds like your sucking up to the Mayor. are you trying to get appointed to a board?.

    Comment by John P. — March 11, 2015 @ 8:30 pm

  30. John P.: From your personal experience Is that what you had to do to the Mayor(s) to get appointed to the Planning Board and Historic Advisory Board?

    I think there are some kids on your lawn you need to scream at.

    Comment by Gerard L. — March 11, 2015 @ 9:04 pm

  31. John, personally I do not know the Mayor. Like I stated above the Mayor insisted we have a selfie taken in an unplanned situation which I was serendipitously involved in. I don’t really care who the Mayor is but it bothers me when someone continually documents every maladroit move or utterance a person makes with no other purpose than to diminish that person’s stature.

    Comment by jack — March 11, 2015 @ 9:52 pm

  32. it bothers me when someone continually documents every maladroit move or utterance a person makes with no other purpose than to diminish that person’s stature.

    In the grand words of Gina Liano from the Real Housewives of Melbourne, “Well don’t look darling, don’t look.” Because unless Trish Spencer stops her antics, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 12, 2015 @ 5:41 am

  33. #30, no I just participated in my community.

    Comment by John P. — March 12, 2015 @ 8:05 am

  34. post#31, “I don’t really care who the Mayor is but it bothers me when someone continually documents every maladroit move or utterance a person makes with no other purpose than to diminish that person’s stature”. kinda what Trish supports did to mayor Gilmore the last four years.

    Comment by John P. — March 12, 2015 @ 9:04 am

  35. john p., your projection does not make it true. As a progressive, I’m sure you rant and rave about Republican projection, but if you step back a moment, you see it is a human flaw and not uniquely Republican.

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — March 12, 2015 @ 10:03 am

  36. Some might argue that the action diminish a person’s stature, not somebody observing them.

    Comment by BMac — March 12, 2015 @ 10:55 am

  37. #31: Jack, you wrote

    “I don’t really care who the Mayor is but it bothers me when someone continually documents every maladroit move or utterance a person makes with no other purpose than to diminish that person’s stature.”

    Many of us would rather *not* witness or document Mayor Spencer’s inability to lead meetings or to be logical when acting in her official capacity, but it is becoming increasingly clear that her lack of skills and/or abilities is hurting our community. And, as you say, we have “such good weather” that we still give a damn about what’s going on.

    Unfortunately, Lauren and the rest of us do not have to dig deep or work hard to see the mounting evidence of problematic leadership skills: Lauren is simply presenting the obvious and unavoidable. Just attending City Council meetings is painful, because you only need to wait a few minutes to see or hear another instance of a mayor who seems to be very much in over her depth.

    I still hope and pray for her success: she *could* learn to run meetings effectively and even-handedly. I hope she realizes how important that is to the city we all love so much–for lots more than the weather.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — March 13, 2015 @ 9:17 am

  38. ‘Public enmity’s’ the only place I could find that suits this info. Hayward and Emeryville are on the list. It’s probably not too late for Alameda to volunteer for a few.

    Comment by jack — March 18, 2015 @ 3:37 pm


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