Blogging Bayport Alameda

July 9, 2015

Advance guard

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

You know that idiom about letting sleeping dogs lie?  Well in the case of Trish Spencer and the whole Sister City debacle it might have been best if she had let that issue slowly die on its own.  But, since she didn’t and a few of her supporters decided to come out to Tuesday’s City Council meeting to defend Trish Spencer’s honor even though it’s pretty clear that they didn’t really understand what the issue was about and genesis of the Sister City in the Philippines.

If any of you are longer time Alameda Peeps members, the first speaker was a relatively notorious former Alameda Peeps member.  If I had to describe him in one word: Audi.  This speaker expressed his “displeasure” about the whole business using very general and vague terms which meant that he didn’t really understand the whole story but decided that he needed to defend Trish Spencer anyway.

Choice quotes:

The Mayor is taking heat for something she was not a part of.

Uh, she’s taking heat for the words that she said at the Sister City celebration.  I guess being there at an event and speaking at the event is defined as not being a part of that event.

Then he starts complaining about how he and his relatives weren’t included in the “Sister signing event” and how he believes that there are “misdoings” by someone.  Then he threatens to not vote for Rob Bonta again because of “correspondence” he has seen from Cynthia Bonta.  Of course if he’s referring to this letter he would have noted that it was not signed by Cynthia Bonta, but again, based on the vagueness of his comments made “on record” his information sounded second hand.

Next up was a speaker that I’ve seen at a lot of School Board meetings.  She launched out the gate by saying that the cultural faux pas were so inconsequential that they should have been addressed directly with Trish Spencer as opposed to making a big deal out of it.  Which is a fair-ish point, but where’s the fun in that?  Trish Spencer is an elected official and therefore can take responsibility for her public statements.  If she wants all the fun and glory of riding in a low rider in the 4th of July Parade then she also has to deal with the mocking of her lack of preparation for public events.

She goes on to lament that they were not informed of the event and only heard about it in the newspaper. Of course, I will point out that the Sister City resolution was signed in May of this year by Trish Spencer, who, ostensibly, was kept in the loop about the festivities that were to come and — from the staff report:

In February 2015, Vice Mayor Matarrese, former President of ASCA, informed Mayor Spencer that ASCA had sent a letter to Dumaguete Mayor Sagarbarria offering to host a delegation from Dumaguete in June 2015.  Vice Mayor Matarrese requested that Mayor Spencer also send an invitation, as an invitation from the ranking city official is required for the purpose of getting government clearance to travel and for getting visas. In March 2015, Mayor Spencer sent a letter to Mayor Sagarbarria inviting a delegation from Dumaguete to Alameda for the purpose of becoming Sister Cities, as recognized by Sister City International. On March 17, 2015, ASCA made a presentation on Dumaguete to the City Council.

So, the folks that are asking why they weren’t included or informed could also ask Trish Spencer who knew about it why she didn’t let them know this was happening either.  Trish Spencer’s supporter also went on to complain that the people who organized the Sister City relationship with Dumaguete were “not residents or have long ties in Alameda.”  The organization that went through the Sister City process is the Alameda Sister City Association (ASCA) of which Frank Matarrese used to be president of, I guess his ties are not “long” enough to satisfy her.

And the last “speaker” aka letter writer is Ruben Tilos, currently on the Rec and Park Commission and ran for School Board and City Council a while ago.  This letter (read by Speaker #1) was truly bizarre and honestly did Trish Spencer no favors.

Choice quote

I was asked how I felt about the comments Mayor Spencer made during the Filipino celebration that was attended by our Sister City from the Philippines.

Which means that either Trish Spencer solicited this support from her Filipino constituency or someone did it on her behalf.

Ruben Tilos goes on to declare the comments made as probably not politically correct but ones that he found humorous and went on to wax poetic about his own rice eating three times a day and how often Filipinos hug and kiss.

Here’s the thing: what these three supporters failed to realize while bending themselves into yoga-like poses to defend Trish Spencer and her strong powers of cultural observation by picking up on rice eating and hugging and kissing as key characteristics of Filipinos is that at any time they could have educated their good friend on Filipino culture.

Of course, one could ask, and by one, I mean me: if Trish Spencer has such a chummy relationship with these Filipino Alamedans why she didn’t ask them for their guidance on what she should say at a cultural event such as a Sister City celebration with a city from the the Philippines.  If she had no resources at hand — other than Wikipedia — to learn about Filipino culture at least she could be excused for her ignorance and her weak attempts at bonding.  But here she had no less than three (well two in person and one willing to write a letter on her behalf) Filipinos saying how super Trish Spencer is. Shouldn’t one of the three have been able to hand her some ready made materials that would appeal to her audience.   Heck I’m not Filipino and even I know that a better connection between Mexican Americans and Filipino Americans would have been to bring up Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) and National Farm Workers Association connection. If she (or her Filipino friends) hadn’t caught the NY Times story about Larry Itliong that ran three years ago, Rob Bonta handed her, by way of an Alameda Sun op-ed, the same information about the strong history between the two communities.

Instead of blaming other people for paying attention to what Trish Spencer says perhaps her supporters can help keep her informed about the issues that she is going to speak about so that she can be prepared and therefore not put herself in the awkward position of sounding like she has no idea what the hell is going on.  If City Staff won’t do, maybe she could task her most ardent supporters — like maybe the folks that create powerpoint presentations about all of Trish Spencer’s good works in their spare time (more on that later) — with creating an advance memo for Trish Spencer.  You’re welcome for the tip.



  1. The first thing I thought when I heard these speakers was: Lauren Do and Steve Tavares have really put their foot in it this time! Too bad you didn’t post a link to the video.

    “I was asked how I felt about the comments Mayor Spencer made during the Filipino celebration that was attended by our Sister City from the Philippines.” “Which means that either Trish Spencer solicited this support from her Filipino constituency or someone did it on her behalf.”

    Wrong again, Do. AFTER Tavares wrote his hit piece for the East Bay Express, which has a MUCH greater circulation than this blog, and assumed, as you did, that Savalla-Harper somehow spoke for the whole Filipino community, many people were asking this question of their Filipino neighbors and friends.

    Trish Spencer’s supporters ARE the majority. She don’t need to ask ’em. That’s why she Da Mayor.

    Comment by vigi — July 9, 2015 @ 9:34 am

  2. The “not resident of Alameda” referred to [as I pointed out in your original post] would be Virginia Savella-Harper, the author of the letter you posted, and the chief architect of this kerfluffle. To me, it appears that Virginia Savella-Harper was trying to single-handedly sabotage this sister city project. Why else would she write such a thing? A sister-city relationship outlasts the term of any single Mayor.

    As far as “letting sleeping dogs lie”, you are the one who has beaten this dead horse so flat I could wear it as a pair of chaps.

    Comment by vigi — July 9, 2015 @ 9:44 am

  3. Lauren. Well written blog here. Trish was not elected based on her cultural depth, financial expertise and political prowess. She was elected by a fair amount of people who wanted to slow the development process a bit to make sure certain concerns were addressed. If she stumbles at times, we need to allow for that. Until you walk in a mayor’s shoes, you have no idea how difficult it can be. Given that, it is rather ignorant to think that “Trish Spencer’s supporters ARE the majority.” She benefited from the Alameda voters who were so sure that Marie Gilmore would be reelected, they did not show up at the polls. It happens and it is a lesson to be learned. I like Trish and I hope she does well in her role as mayor. This city needs our mayor to do well.

    Comment by Bill2 — July 9, 2015 @ 9:59 am

  4. Trish did win by the majority. Many Trish supporting voters stayed home from the polls because they were so sure Gilmore would be elected. Works both ways.

    Comment by jack — July 9, 2015 @ 10:14 am

  5. Good post about leadership and accountability, which Trish’s supporters do not seem to understand. I didn’t watch Tuesday’s council meeting, but was wondering did the mayor ever apologize for her offensive actions and lack of cultural competence to foreign dignitaries? I think Virginia Savalla-Harper apologized on the City’s behalf in her public letter, but Alamedans have to live with a vacuous backwater prom queen for mayor.

    Comment by Chuck — July 9, 2015 @ 10:34 am

  6. Chuck it, you guys sure are poor losers, but losers nevertheless.

    Comment by jack — July 9, 2015 @ 10:47 am

  7. Bonta has lost the local Filipino community support and they have NO Trust in him and have truly found out what a phony he is…… His Windbag mouthpiece ODIEferious and their half assed PR attempt to shame anyone is just showing how desperate they are ,,,,,,. Pathetic Politics Of the Grifters and Losers.

    Comment by Cobalt Black Keys Johnson — July 9, 2015 @ 12:43 pm

  8. The real issue is the Filipino community looks at someone’s real character , morals, and ethics after seeing the corruption and favors they have seen in their homeland of their politicians. So pulling shit like this just weakens Bonta and his blowhards as his credibility falls to zip. He will need a raincoat to stop the ants from peeing on him when this is all over.

    Comment by Cobalt Black Keys Johnson — July 9, 2015 @ 1:07 pm

  9. Is Alameda a sanctuary city?

    Comment by Just Asking — July 9, 2015 @ 1:11 pm

  10. 9) Probably best to ask APD and what their policy is and how everything is handled.

    Comment by Cobalt Black Keys Johnson — July 9, 2015 @ 1:21 pm

  11. A state law also prohibits county jails from holding undocumented people for ICE unless they’re suspected of committing a serious or violent felony. The TRUST Act was passed in 2013.

    Even so, some counties have found ways to cooperate with federal immigration officials.

    In Alameda County, Sheriff Greg Ahern said ICE agents are given access to their arrest records every day. While the county can’t hold undocumented immigrants in its jail for a civil detainer because of state law, Alameda County Sheriffs officials will notify ICE when the person is about to be released.

    Comment by Cobalt Black Keys Johnson — July 9, 2015 @ 1:33 pm

  12. Of course Rob Bonta lost the local Filipino community support because that monolithic group stands steadfastly by Trish Spencer as opposed to the first Filipino California Assemblymember who has moved dozens of his own bills from legislation to law and moved the State of California to recognize the largely forgotten Filipino labor leader through an annual day of recognition and include the contributions of Filipino farmworkers to the farm labor movement to school curriculum.

    But obviously, the Filipino community would side with the elected official who joked about hugs and kisses and rice.

    Comment by Lauren Do — July 9, 2015 @ 1:42 pm

  13. Yes Lauren he has a huge PR Problem. Big Hat No Cattle. When you lose the people who know you best they don’t fall for the BS.

    Comment by Cobalt Black Keys Johnson — July 9, 2015 @ 2:07 pm

  14. #6: One could argue that when we are represented by someone without solid leadership skills and political savvy, we all lose.

    Comment by Alison — July 9, 2015 @ 2:12 pm

  15. 14) One Could also argue that Trish has done much better being Honest , Sincere , Great Listener to the people, has a sense of humor, confident, great commitment, positive attitude, creative,thinks outside box, and believes in making Alameda a better experience for the residents.

    Probably helps NOT to be Political Cookie Cutter Talking Head and be a phony and she just acts human and someone you would want to talk to. No Canned BS.. BWTFDIK.

    Comment by Cobalt Black Keys Johnson — July 9, 2015 @ 2:47 pm

  16. Or one could argue that she often appears to be the Sara Palin of Alameda (all personality/no intellect) and is steadily alienating an increasing number of people who supported her originally and are now actively hoping to get this under control and asking why she has betrayed their trust. The worshipfulness is especially disturbing (feels really, really high school) – she was not elected Prom Queen although that does not seem to be clear to her some days.

    Comment by librarycat — July 9, 2015 @ 3:06 pm

  17. #14 I guess it depends on your priorities… being a great listener, a sense of humor & personable are important to me. In choosing friendships. If my city leaders are personable, charming & people I’d like to hang out and drink with, that’s awesome. Contrary to popular belief, But, just like at my place of employment, those are not the priorities. I expect people to do the job they were hired for because we depend on each other to do our work. I’m not dating these people; I don’t even have to have lunch with them. Towards the same end, If you are an effective dipshit with great leadership skills and vision, I probably won’t send you a holiday card. What baffles me is the constant refrain that personality is what counts. Keeping Alameda better for “the residents” (a softening of “for Alamedans”) is the priority. “Preserving a way of life” hasn’t proven to be a particularly compelling standard lately. Regardless of who are leaders are shouldn’t we think about future residents, too? Life is not stagnant; we can work together on changes or we can bitch about what we are handed.

    Comment by Alison — July 9, 2015 @ 3:11 pm

  18. I hate that we can’t edit….. Cross out “contrary to popular belief” in the 3rd sentence.

    Comment by Alison — July 9, 2015 @ 3:12 pm

  19. One could also argue that the Gil NO More Prom Queen lost her Crown and the Bus Riders On That Hate Mobile can’t get over it. Pass the Kleenex and get over yourselves.

    Comment by Cobalt Black Keys Johnson — July 9, 2015 @ 3:14 pm

  20. “. .riding in a low rider in the 4th of July Parade. . .” Really? Well, I guess it is part (or all) of her heritage.

    Comment by Not. A. Alamedan — July 9, 2015 @ 3:18 pm

  21. Alison the best trait of leadership is being Honest. I think the New Mayor Nails It…..Great Leaders Display sincerity, integrity, and candor in all their actions. Deceptive behavior will not inspire trust. Probably why Gil No More Lost.

    Comment by Cobalt Black Keys Johnson — July 9, 2015 @ 3:23 pm

  22. Long after “Black keys” is in a rest home drooling on himself, Rob Bonta will still be representing the State of the California or the Nation. That is something Filipino’s can be proud of. Trish Spencer will still be remembered as the “Sarah Palin of Alameda, and a one term crazy mayor.

    Comment by John P. — July 9, 2015 @ 3:35 pm

  23. John P. will be fondly remembered as a good Old Boy Southern Confederate Democrat who still believes in the Good Ole Boy network and hating anyone who has different opinion. He will help shine any Firepole in any station since somehow out of coincidence his son works there. Small World.

    Comment by Cobalt Black Keys Johnson — July 9, 2015 @ 3:46 pm

  24. Ooooiiii, you poundin those keys Johnneyboy.

    Comment by jack — July 9, 2015 @ 5:31 pm

  25. When Gilmore was the Mayor, all you heard about from the opposition was this:

    “Everyone is in the tank”
    “Good ole boy network”
    “The council and mayor are in the pockets of the Fire Department/Developers/ABAG/Bike Nazis/Millenials”
    “They’re ripping off the Real Alamedans”

    Now Trish is Mayor and all you hear from her side is:

    “Everyone is in the tank except Trish”
    “The good ole boy network is fighting against Trish”
    “The council (except the Mayor) are in the pockets of…”
    “Everyone is trying to rip off Real Alamedans, except Trish”

    I guess it feels too good to be the underdog to give up on the victim mentality.

    Shouldn’t we be hearing about all the great work Trish is doing? Seems kind of pathetic to keep playing the victim card after your side wins.

    It’s not like the whole Council is against her. She’s got Frank on her side and Two-hands Tony (like that one Cobalt?) is there to swing over at any time.

    Comment by Brock — July 9, 2015 @ 5:40 pm

  26. Brock I think your touching yourself too much…….No one is playing victim card and you don’t seem to comprehend that there is a wind change and were tired of the bad gas youallllllll have been passing. Pretty simple stuff.

    Comment by Cobalt Black Keys Johnson — July 9, 2015 @ 6:10 pm

  27. Brock, have you actually finally become a Pokémon Doctor?

    Comment by jack — July 9, 2015 @ 6:39 pm

  28. Apropos Comment #13. I think the quote you’re mangling is “all hat, no cattle” which is a texasism widely used by Molly Ivins in describing the second George Bush president. As I recall, Molly credited long time Texans, who use it to describe the fake cowboys that for one reason or another have decided to make Texas their home….(I personally have heard it used in reference to one or more of the Dellionaires who’ve built their palaces in Austin.). Not sure I get the reference in relation to Rob Bonta and the Filipino community. As far as I can tell there are neither hats nor cattle, metaphorically or otherwise.

    Comment by Jordan — July 9, 2015 @ 7:01 pm

  29. “Big hat no cattle”, to me means big mouth, no substance. Bonta, speaking for myself, means “slick hair, nothing under it”.

    Comment by jack — July 9, 2015 @ 7:11 pm

  30. Jack I’m named after this cartoon Brock:

    Comment by Brock — July 9, 2015 @ 7:23 pm

  31. post # 23, “black keys”, two things, first my family is off limits on this blog, just as anyone’s should be. You can take shots at me anytime you like but leave the family out of this stuff. Second no one in my family has worked in any fire dept. I don’t like people like you who don’t mind printing lies on this blog.

    Comment by John P. — July 9, 2015 @ 7:23 pm

  32. Cobalt in your comment 7., did you not bring up “…their half assed attempt to shame…”? Wouldn’t it be logical for someone reading your comment to infer that you think the Mayor is the VICTIM of this attempt to shame?

    I’m not really following your reference to me masturbating.

    Comment by Brock — July 9, 2015 @ 7:32 pm

  33. 32)

    Just more political BS the losers like to beat on with NO Substance and No Story….It’s all about ethics and morals and how you treat people…..The Mayor seems to take high road on everything . I like her style.

    John P if your going to call me AH and FU in the past on this Blog and refer to me as “Drooling when I’m in a rest home” it’s nice to know you make the rules. But I respect your wishes and was misled and was told your son worked in AFD. But still think your an old Confederate Southern Democrat who got lost in Alameda and joined the good ole boy clan.

    Big Hat No Cattle in reference to Bonta = All Foam No Beer.

    Nothing there.there.

    Comment by Cobalt Black Keys Johnson — July 9, 2015 @ 9:01 pm

  34. Thank you John.

    Comment by John P. — July 10, 2015 @ 8:17 am

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