Tonight there is yet another City Council meeting on, what else, the budget. Can I just say that whoever on City Staff (or maybe it was a consultant firm) that put together the Capital Improvement Program budget presentation did a phenomenal job. It is very impressive and professional looking and really tells a story about the projects that have been completed and those in the pipeline.
But instead of writing about the budget meeting tonight instead I’m going to write about what happened at one of last week’s City Council meetings during Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft’s Council Referral about appointments to regional boards. What was a bit frustrating about the comments that resulted from the Referral is that it appeared that some of the City Council members wanted to rewrite the narrative as to why Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft placed the referral on the agenda. Really the whole thing was quite simple, the rationale for placing it on the agenda was two fold:
- To align the process of regional appointments with Alameda’s boards and commissions process, meaning that the Mayor would nominate and the City Council would approve.
- Ensure that the votes that are taken at these regional boards align with Alameda’s position on these issues and support the work that Alameda has already done.
Let’s take the first issue because, for me, it seemed pretty straight forward. In the City documents there is a process for appointing internal commissions and boards, very straightforward gives a lot of public notice and is very open. At one meeting the Mayor nominated a person for a board or commission and then at the next meeting the City Council votes for it up or down. Typically there isn’t a lot of drama about the person being nominated, but it’s just a good process to follow. When Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft suggested that the City Council may want to consider following the same process for regional appointments which are pretty important in the grand scheme of things everyone balked, except Tony Daysog who I literally can’t really figure out his motivations. Insultingly Jim Oddie chalked the regional appointment process up to the “victor” getting the “spoils.” Of course he failed to realize that, technically, they are all “victors” since they are all sitting up on the dais and no one is an appointed City Council person, so whatever dude. And the secondly he dismissively said, “if you feel slighted make sure you have a good relationship with the person making the appointment.”
I mean, essentially Jim Oddie is saying, “make sure the kiss the Mayor’s ass because appointments to regional bodies has nothing to do with your interest or your expertise in the subject matter just how well you can smile broadly to a person’s face and make them feel as though they’re doing a good job being Mayor even though they might be failing miserably.”
Ah, politics. Makes you want to take a shower.
Anyway, that first prong failed because Jim Oddie abstained in a 2 – 2 – 1 split. Surprisingly Tony Daysog (1) didn’t abstain and (2) broke rank and voted on the side Trish Spencer was not on.
The second prong, however was the most important, because Trish Spencer has been going rogue at regional meetings and voting against specific agenda items that Alameda, the City, has long supported before she sat in the Mayor’s chair. Everyone sort of beat around the bush about the specific items she voted against and Trish Spencer seemed shocked to learn that she actually needed to report out to the Council and to the public about her votes at these meetings. I mean, her whole schtick is asking questions “for the public” and putting things out there “for the public.” Except for when it comes to these regional meetings that she’s getting paid to attend, for those she plays coy and acts as though she had no idea that she needed to represent Alameda in a way that benefits the City of Alameda and not just how Trish Spencer, maverick, feels on issues of taxation and transportation and lead abatement etc and so forth.
Fortunately the Council agreed in a 3 – 2 vote, Trish Spencer and Tony Daysog against (see! he’s like a weird loose cannon who casts votes that make no logical sense when matched up to his other votes) to get briefings from staff and to report out at City Council meeting on what happened at these meetings.
Still, I wish someone had pressed Trish Spencer as to why she cast that vote at ACTC, that lone vote at ACTC, and how she felt as though that was in Alameda’s best interest at the time. But in the end, in the spirit of going along to get along no one openly challenged her.