Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 15, 2015


Filed under: Alameda, Alameda-ish, Public Resources — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

There’s a City Council meeting tomorrow on the Budget, different from the other budget meeting that was discussed at last week’s meeting that caused so much confusion for Mayor Trish Spencer.  Maybe I’ll write about the budget meeting tomorrow, but who knows.

As I mentioned there are some awesome quotes from last week’s meeting from a few City Council members including Jim Oddie who threw some major shade at someone on the City Council who sits around in coffee shops complaining about issues but then doesn’t do much to actually get anything accomplished. I wonder who he was referring to… Anyway, hopefully I can get some video spliced in the next week or so, but no promises.

What I did want to write about was a referral placed on next week’s regular City Council meeting by Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft which may seem very cryptic if you haven’t heard the rumor mill with regard to Alameda’s representatives to regional bodies.

Let me back up a bit.  Alameda is part of a larger region despite us being an island and super duper special.  There are a lot of regional bodies that requires an Alameda representative so that we don’t get left behind or issues that affect us get decided without us.  It’s one of the perks being Mayor that you get to appoint people to these regional boards and bodies.  In the past Mayors have done a really good job at spreading out the assignments among the other City Council members, particularly the plum assignments that come with a stipend for attendance.  Trish Spencer has appointed herself to all of the boards with stipends and has decided that — despite her lack of knowledge about most of the regional issues — that she is the best Alameda face to put forward.

However, if rumors are to be believed — that hopefully I will get some audio from some Board meetings to confirm — she’s already made waves at some of these regional meetings, taking positions on issues that she knows little about and taking positions that are not necessarily in the best interest of Alameda as a City.

This rumor appears to be confirmed in a roundabout way by this agenda item which seeks to codify what role Alameda representatives should have on the regional bodies and now they should conduct themselves to best represent the interests of our fair city, the Referral:

While the City Charter specifies the procedure for appointing members to “internal” boards, i.e. the Public Utilities, Civil Service, Planning, Social Service Human Relations, Library and Historical Advisory Boards, (Sec. 10- 2: “Upon nomination of the Mayor, the Council shall appoint . . . one member of each such Board . . .”, p. 17), it is silent on the procedure for appointing representatives to regional boards and commissions, e.g. Alameda County Transportation Commission, Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), Waste Management Authority, League of California Cities, etc. Currently, unless specifically mandated by the regional body, the Mayor makes these appointments without City Council input or oversight, unlike the procedure for appointing members to internal boards.

Nor does the City Charter address how representatives to these regional boards and commissions should represent City policy and City Council directives when voting on matters before these bodies, and how actions taken by representatives are reported to City Council and the public.

Since actions taken by regional boards and commissions can have significant implications for the City, for example, our ability to secure funding for transit improvements to alleviate traffic congestion, it is essential to establish guidelines that create City Council oversight of appointments to regional boards and commissions, and assure that a representative’s votes reflect City policy and City Council directives. A procedure should also be created to inform City Council and the public of votes cast by the City’s representatives to regional boards and commissions.

It’s funny that this process needs to be done now that Trish Spencer has appointed herself to every meaningful regional body available.  I mean, not funny because it probably means that in the tight knit circle that is Bay Area politicians it’s going around that Trish Spencer may be casting votes and saying things that makes Alameda look foolish.  It’s probably a good thing to have in general for future Councils anyway.

It really is important that even if Trish Spencer can’t manage to remember that she represents the whole City of Alameda at City Council meetings as opposed to only the people that she hangs out with at Rock Wall and coffee shops.  She should recall that at these regional meetings she does represent the whole City of Alameda and not just what Trish Spencer thinks is important.


  1. Is this true?! “Trish Spencer has appointed herself to all of the boards with stipends…” What’s the precedent for that if so?

    Comment by Anonymoustroll — April 15, 2015 @ 6:32 am

  2. “She’s already made waves at some of these regional meetings, taking positions on issues that she knows little about and taking positions that are not necessarily in the best interest of Alameda as a City.”

    This is scary stuff! I agree we need to know every vote she has cast, and yes thanks Lauren some video please if you can get it.

    This is one of the questions I asked during one of the Candidates Forums during the election. I wanted to know her experience in working with regional agencies and site some of her accomplishments (if any) in working with regional agencies to help solve some of our local problems. I recall she found away to avoid the answer.

    It’s increasingly clear that collaboration and problem solving is not one of our Mayor’s strong points. We’re an island but we are interconnected with the larger region with regional issues that impact Alameda. We need to learn how to collaborate, partner with, and find solutions for the region that will benefit the region and the interests of Alameda.

    Comment by Karen Bey — April 15, 2015 @ 6:47 am

  3. AT: Beverly Johnson came close, but I think she left one stipend paying meeting to someone else. Marie Gilmore only appointed herself to one stipend paying body (ABAG) which — arguably — the Mayor should be the representative to anyway.

    Trish Spencer appointed herself to the ALAMEDA COUNTY LEAD ABATEMENT JT. POWERS AUTHORITY (JPA) BOARD ($150 per meeting), ALAMEDA COUNTY TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION ($225 per meeting *plus $25 travel per diem), ABAG (I’m not sure if this still carries a stipend but did when Marie Gilmore was Mayor), STOPWASTE.ORG ALAMEDA COUNTY WASTE MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY ($150 per meeting). Those are the only bodies with stipends.

    Comment by Lauren Do — April 15, 2015 @ 7:06 am

  4. She knows all about regional issues because she can see Oakland from her house.

    Comment by BC — April 15, 2015 @ 8:07 am

  5. Thanks for the additional facts. I don’t much care for the consolidation of so much power into the hands of a single person.

    Comment by Anonymoustroll — April 15, 2015 @ 8:33 am

  6. Don’t know, but don’t think, there is a permanent committee/body at AC Transit for an Alameda elected official. The Board member representing Alameda is Elsa Ortiz who is responsive to emails. Seems like people on either side the development/traffic discussion should be about pushing for better transbay service for Alameda. In the past several months in particular, as the local economy has heated up, the transbay buses more and more are becoming standing room only. What has the mayor said about this? (or maybe we want someone else doing the talking?)

    Comment by MP — April 15, 2015 @ 9:06 am

  7. 2
    “This is one of the questions I asked during one of the Candidates Forums during the election. I wanted to know her experience in working with regional agencies and site some of her accomplishments (if any) in working with regional agencies to help solve some of our local problems. I recall she found away to avoid the answer.”

    Be interesting to know what the past appointed bumbledoms have accomplished for this holy city by attending these resume padding meetings.

    Comment by jack — April 15, 2015 @ 9:57 am

  8. Finally, a post with a real issue instead of BS about style. Of course, it’s dripping with the usual brand of Do hate. (Mayor Spencer definitely gets that right.) Now would be the time to point out that noone else ran. Alameda wanted someone who was less friendly to developers, not totally stupid/tone deaf about the obvious concerns of residents (Crown Beach), and less in the tank for the firefighters. All in all, I prefer Trish to Gilmore and would vote/ will vote for her again in a heartbeat when presented with that choice.

    The idea that Gilmore represented anyone but the people who agreed with her is risible. Time and time again Gilmore made it clear she had no time to spare for the peons who didn’t understand or support her position. Russo/Nguyen/Gilmore were the trifecta of autocratic control except they forgot that the election was not a gimme. (For a good laugh, read Russo’s response over at Alamedamgr before Spencer’s upset That is a man who is confident that his condescension is without consequence.

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — April 15, 2015 @ 9:58 am

  9. Trish Spencer is an embarrassment to Alameda. Can we start the recall for the 2016 election, and gather up all the video footage of how she has thrown Alameda under the bus (pun intended wrt to AC Transit) at these regional meetings?

    Comment by Alan — April 15, 2015 @ 10:05 am

  10. I think Spencer has taken these positions because she is a control freak, as opposed to the money.

    8. your shrieking Do hate is so hyperbolic as to cancel out any legitimate point you may make, but I don’t really see any. The letter from Russo has no real there there, especially since he is gone. Fine to be against the status quo and question development, but eight years of Spencer would likely leave this town in a dangerous state of instability.

    9. I’d like not to get embroiled in recall at this point because it is a polarizing distraction at a time we are already dangerously exposed by a lack of strong leadership. Remember recall of Gray Davis lead to Arnold, so careful what you wish for.

    Comment by MI — April 15, 2015 @ 11:05 am

  11. Jack, the best way to answer your question is to attend one of these meetings and see for yourself, something I’m certain our Blogmistress has yet to do. They are mostly open to the public. Sometimes the post-meeting video is posted on YouTube. I went to an ABAG-MTC meeting a few years ago. As expected, Gilmore didn’t show. [Neither did Jean Quan]. No one sitting on the council at that time did show up. But Beverly Johnson, who no longer officially represented Alameda, did.

    Because the author of this blog makes it a point not to attend any civic meetings in person, preferring to shoot from the hip from her armchair quarterback seat, I can give very little credence to today’s post.

    Comment by vigi — April 15, 2015 @ 11:18 am

  12. Please, oh please, oh please, pretty please with sugar on top! Try to recall the Mayor! What a wonderful idea, like Christmas in July.

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — April 15, 2015 @ 11:40 am

  13. According to testimony at the 6/26/2013 ABAG Special Meeting on PlanBayArea (to vote on whether PBA should be put to a Vote of the People, and not just approval by this unelected appointed ABAG-MTC; something which I’m sure Trish would have been in favor of, had she been there), that was the 249th meeting on PlanBayArea, for which MTC commissioners had been paid (at that time) $100/meeting or $24,000+ per commissioner and ABAG representatives had been paid $150/meeting or $37,000+ per , cumulative [arithmetic per public speakers at the meeting-I did not check it. The speaker concluded that over $1.5 million had been spent by taxpayers on attendance at these meetings alone. I guess they earned it, though, tis meeting was 4 hours long.
    Your Tax Dollars At Work…Measure B perhaps?

    For you advocates of Regional Planning, the 53% of persons in the Bay Area interviewed By PBA itself, apparently said they did not want Regional Planning at all.

    Comment by vigi — April 15, 2015 @ 11:51 am

  14. Every municipality should just become their own state. that would solve everything.

    Comment by BMac — April 15, 2015 @ 11:56 am

  15. The stipend issue doesn’t surprise me and is just one more symptom of a person apparently incapable of making sound or balanced decisions and/or judgements. What concerns me is the lack of knowledge and unwillingness to discuss governance rather than demand or accuse when an issue is up for consideration. What concerns me is her lack of knowledge or scoffing at protocol. And what concerns me too: Is she UNABLE to sit still? Is she capable of listening and then actually hearing, and then understanding the complicated issues at stake? Am I watching ADD? ADHD? Autism? That’s not necessarily a low blow and ultimately wouldn’t matter…except that there appear to be serious consequences looming on the horizon. Concern is appropriate because we (all municipalities, our very Nation) are at both a crossroads and watershed requiring top-notch leadership to chart a course towards a viable/sustainable future. Given the apparent limitations, the foot-dragging, the tone taken with others while on the dais, having this woman now ensconced at the Regional level …what’s the word for this? We’re in uncharted waters here. Ineffective, inappropriate, incompetent, damaging, embarrassing? Just how much “flying in the face” does a City take? What are the options to correct such a situation? Are there formal ways of managing it for 4 years that won’t keep the City tied up in damage control? Just complaining serves no purpose. Thinking strategically is sound. It is wise to keep on the back-burner the possibility of recall. We’ll have to watch and see. But by the tone taken, the conflicting performance, the foot-dragging and arrogant fly-in-your-face attitude? It’s serious. “Those not busy being born are busy dying” (B. Dylan), or stagnating because we’re busy mopping up the mess being created.

    Comment by Gabrielle — April 15, 2015 @ 12:23 pm

  16. Recalls are nasty and divisive and can get us to worse places, as MI notes. I’ve asked a few people who don’t follow city matters closely what they think of the mayor and “meh” and “isn’t she kinda dumb?” were a couple of the responses (not from the same person). So, even if recalls were a not a painful thing, I don’t see the demand. The record of four years of her being mayor will be a long enough track-record for a good opponent in a two-way race to win comfortably. Spencer is pandering to her base of the non-working and angry (I read a good description in another context, “refugees from modernity,” that seemed applicable)–but that was only a part of the coalition that, combined with Gilmore’s non-campaign, got her elected. She’s doing nothing to endear herself to the younger and non-native (e.g., being against BART in Alameda, giving lie to her claim that she doesn’t want housing because we don’t, well, have BART). That said, in the unlikely and undesirable event that a recall happened, I’d vote yes.

    Comment by BC — April 15, 2015 @ 1:36 pm

  17. If you show up 45 minutes late for a one hour board meeting you still pass go! and collect $150 dollars. Madam Mayor was probably stuck in traffic.

    Comment by Gerard L. — April 15, 2015 @ 2:45 pm

  18. While I appreciate Mayor Spencer’s devotion to our community, I think it makes much more sense to distribute the workload across all 5 members of the City Council so that sufficient attention and energy can be devoted to each regional board on which Alameda needs to be well represented. As I recall from casually observing 15 years of City Council meetings, the workload has been shared fairly well in the past. If Mayor Spencer’s practice departs from a “distributed workload” model, Alameda may not be served well if she is unable to devote adequate attention simultaneously to all these regional issues. (She needs to not only attend meetings but be fully prepared and informed when she does.)

    In particular, I fear for the future of our transportation infrastructure maintenance and improvement, which the Public Works staff has been moving forward very effectively given their shoestring budget. If Mayor Spencer does not listen to, learn from, and support the staff’s capable work at the regional level (Alameda County Transportation Commission, MTC, etc.), we will be moving backwards rather quickly.

    If Mayor Spencer–or any official representing us–wants to ably represent the City of Alameda on these regional bodies, there are many smart and capable city staffers and community members who can serve as resources based on long experience in regional matters or with local issues like transportation, law enforcement, etc.. I hope and trust that all of our elected representatives are constantly taking full advantage of the wealth of experience and knowledge that is available, no matter where or how often they represent us.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — April 16, 2015 @ 7:36 am

  19. You seem awfully judgmental for a Spiritual Counselor, Gabrielle…

    Comment by vigi — April 16, 2015 @ 3:30 pm

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