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.
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.
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.