Blogging Bayport Alameda

July 21, 2015

Tipping the scales

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

Two big issues tonight: one at the City Council and the second at the School Board.  The City Council — in what appears to be the last meeting before their August recess — will be considering an ordinance to strengthen (slightly) protections for renters in Alameda.  The big things will be formalizing the Rent Review Advisory Committee as part of one of the many other Commissions in the Municipal Code.  The other big thing will the the requirement to participate in the RRAC process which starts with a notice that must accompany the notice for rent increase.

Arguably the bigger issue will be the possible appointment of a School Board member tonight TOMORROW NIGHT (sorry folks! totally had my dates confused) to fill Niel Tam’s vacated seat.  Unfortunately because the City Council meeting is in session this meeting will be held at Island High School rather than the chambers and if you want to know what’s happening you’ll have to go there in person.  Arguably one reason why it’s a shame that the meeting didn’t get bumped to a time when people could watch on the TV if they couldn’t make it in person.  I guess we’ll have to watch the twitter feed instead.  It is, however, being held at Island High School and am not sure why.  But it’s at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday night.

As I mentioned before, there are only five candidates.  Yesterday I was looking through some old posts about the last appointment process and it reminded me of the whole Jane Grimaldi and Philip Hu deadlock.  It was only due to Jane Grimaldi stepping aside that the process was resolved.  If there was anyone who would have been the clear favorite it would have been Jane Grimaldi this time around.  The last time, she received first round votes from Solana Hennberry, Barbara Kahn, and Niel Tam.  Given her stepping aside the first time around, it would have been reasonable to assume that Philip Hu would have also cast a vote for her.  But that’s neither here nor there since she did not elect to put in an application this time around.

The top tier candidates, from a name recognition perspective, are: Gray Harris, Anne McKereghan (formely Anne DeBardeleben), and Mike McMahon.  The other two seem nice enough but the final vote will be for one of the three.  Quite possibly Mike McMahon is already out of the running because the last time he only received one vote from Niel Tam.  Anne McKereghan (as Anne DeBardeleben) went pretty far in the second final round when the School Board opted to bring to the final vote only those candidates that received two or more votes after the “pick 2” round.   Anne McKereghan was able to retain the vote of Solana Henneberry up until the final pick round.  She also was able to pick up Gary Lym’s vote in the “pick 2” round as well, but that one I viewed as more of a voting against Jane Grimaldi than voting for Anne McKereghan.

The addition of Gray Harris to the mix makes the math really quite complicated because she (ostensibly) has the backing of the union.  And when I say the backing of the union, I’m not just referring to the local teacher’s union.  I’m talking about “the union” in the form of the Alameda Labor Council.  Gray Harris’s current role with the statewide teacher’s union and her current leadership role in general in the larger Democratic organizations makes her a serious player.  Solana Henneberry (given her obvious union connections) could be a vote for Gray Harris where she would — in other circumstances — be a vote for Anne McKereghan.

Similarly, Gary Lym, who has a close relationship with Trish Spencer (they essentially campaigned together) he’ll be fairly inclined to take her advice on this appointment.  I’m pretty sure Trish Spencer will put the kibosh on any whiff of a desire to vote for Mike McMahon and his singular vote for Anne McKereghan probably would not carry over to this appointment given that she was never even one of his “pick 10” choices the first time around and he admitted to being fairly liberal with those picks.  I’m guessing he could be persuaded to vote for Gray Harris (depending on whether Trish Spencer and Gray Harris have maintained a friendly relationship dating from back when they were tilting against the Kristen Vital windmill together) or he might vote for one of the two other candidates who are not Mike McMahon or Anne McKereghan.

Philip Hu also has union ties in no less than his day job.  If this appointment is seen as critical, he may be getting calls as well to cast his vote for Gray Harris.  That’s a tentative three votes that Gray Harris has in her pocket if the correct behind-the-scenes lobbying has happened, which we can only assume has happened.

Barbara Kahn was also supported by the local teachers union although does not typically toe any particular party line.  However, based on her previous votes she never cast a vote for Anne McKereghan or Mike McMahon in any of the rounds so I think it’s obvious that her choice may be Gray Harris unless there is a serious beef between these two ladies that never made it into the rumor mill.

So right now, my math says that it may be Gray Harris who walks away with the seat tonight, but here’s why I’m uncomfortable with that outcome.  While I believe that Gray Harris would be a perfectly competent School Board member, I’ve always been a fan — even when I’m hyper critical of the particular person playing that role — of someone on a Board representing the loyal opposition.  My fear is if the pick is Gray Harris this board becomes entirely too union friendly and maybe that’s why she’ll get the appointment in the first place.  There needs to be a voice that pushes back — even slightly — to provide the other perspective.  Of course I always appreciate if that voice is one that can push back and actually attempt to persuade the other Board Members in a compelling way to see his/her side, and not just push back for the sake of pushing back, but that’s just me.

Also, because of the circumstances surrounding the vacancy, I think it’s also important to consider the values of the man who vacated the seat. Personally, it would honor the man to fill the vacancy with someone who he would have endorsed wholeheartedly instead of viewing this as an opportunity to tip the scales so far into one particular direction.   After Niel Tam’s death a lot of people came out to say really nice things to honor his memory.  A bigger and more significant way to honor his memory would be to fill his empty seat with someone who understood his values as School Board member and would be more closely aligned to how he would cast votes and what he believed were important causes to back on the School Board.  Folks closer to school related issues and closer to the man himself would be able to better gauge who of the top three would fill that particular role, but my gut (which has been wrong before) tells me that it may not be the person who eventually wins the required number of votes tonight.



    Except for the link, will take the sage advice of Island-life:

    “Well, no wonder only idiots get into the comments area for these things. Rational people are scared off and discouraged by shrill ranting and red-faced denunciation. We certainly will not venture forth with any sort of reasoned comment in this forum again and we doubt anyone else of sense and sensibility will as well. Which leaves the field to galloping assholes. “

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — July 21, 2015 @ 9:09 am

  2. Transportation Commission tomorrow night.

    Comment by BMac — July 21, 2015 @ 11:10 am

  3. 1. too late for you to take the high road, cause you gallop faster than most.

    Comment by MI — July 21, 2015 @ 11:14 am

  4. 1. p.s.- your hoof prints and horse apples are all over this blog and the internet, but of course you don’t have to take any responsibility because we aren’t supposed to know who you are, except some suspect because your M.O. is so glaring.

    Comment by MI — July 21, 2015 @ 11:18 am

  5. That was actually an interesting article showing how the school board reversed Vital’s decision to oust an outstanding principal, instead transferring him to another nearby school (probably to avoid a lawsuit).

    Comment by Breathless — July 21, 2015 @ 2:32 pm

  6. If someone told you (I’m pretty sure you didn’t figure it out by yourself), they broke a promise.

    Comment by people can be unreasonable ------- — July 22, 2015 @ 9:19 am

  7. nobody broke any promises. I repeat: your M.O. is GLARING. whatever you accuse others, you are guilty ten fold. learn to live with that or give it up.

    Comment by MI — July 22, 2015 @ 9:37 pm

  8. In the end the outcome ended up being as predicted with Gray Harris being selected as Niel Tam’s replacement. There was initial drama with Gary Lym and Phil Hu voicing their support for Anne McKereghan after Judy Niel indicated Anne would best follow in Niel’s steps. After an hour of both sides refusing to budge on their initial preferences, Phil Hu heeded Marie Gilmore’s admonishment to make a tough decision and voted for Gray.

    Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — July 23, 2015 @ 5:42 am

  9. Nice to know that the person who wanted to stab Tam in the back with the “Let’s get Niel to be interim superintendent!” ploy is now sitting in his seat. The Tam family must be thrilled.

    Comment by Oh the Irony! — July 23, 2015 @ 9:31 am

  10. So now, one of the most combative and divisive voices in recent AUSD memory is sitting on the BOE. Nice.

    Also deeply ironic that Marie Gilmore spoke in favor of Harris, as the Harris-led teacher’s union was at least peripherally responsible for the rise of Trish Spencer.

    Comment by (not) safe to say — July 23, 2015 @ 12:59 pm

  11. And let us not forget how Ms. Harris led the plot to hold the school calendar hostage — which was a huge inconvenience to Alameda families. That was really showing her commitment to the community! I can hardly wait to present her with a bag of coal now that she’ll be on the dais. Or maybe I should just offer to help her sharpen her knives for the next time she needs to plunge them into someone’s back.

    Comment by Oh the Irony! — July 23, 2015 @ 1:29 pm

  12. 10-There is no irony for the residents around Maya Lin school who got leaflets that Jeff Delbono from the firefighters union, who supported Gilmore, and Gray Harris are having an affair.

    Comment by BarbaraK (not Kahn) — July 23, 2015 @ 2:53 pm

  13. Jeff and gray actually live together in Alameda and have for a number of years now. Why a flyer was needed speaks to the unbalanced issues of whoever made it. And regardless, what it has to do with this issue escapes me.

    Lauren can speak to Alameda’s history of ugly may flyers.

    Comment by jkw — July 23, 2015 @ 3:21 pm

  14. not weighing in on union politics, Gray’s appointment,or any of the implications; just wondering how the flier was sprung, assuming it was distributed anonymously as is usually the case with that sort of attempt at character assassination ploy and hogh road behavior. BTW- I’m not in lock step with unions, and have plenty of issues I could talk about, but just find the idea that somebody thought a flier about Gray and Jeff was warranted and appropriate ( all is fair in love and war?) to be a little weird.

    Comment by MI — July 23, 2015 @ 6:18 pm

  15. A member of the school board in bed with Alameda Big Labor? Not to mention that Big Labor is her day job. Nothing to see here folks. Move along.

    And MI, I don’t know the parties involved in the flyer distribution, but the story I heard was that it was a spurned significant other/spouse. So not someone who had it in for Labor.

    BTW: I wonder who is going to run the next parcel tax campaign? Not the people who ran the last successful campaign, I’ll bet. I suspect some of them are mighty annoyed right now.

    Oh wait. Nevermind. According to Barbara Kahn, it will be “easy” to pass the next parcel tax. Phew! That takes a load off my mind. I’ll sleep well tonight.

    Comment by Oh the Irony! — July 23, 2015 @ 6:55 pm

  16. Barbara Kahn thinks that all you need to renew the next parcel is the union’s support. I think she expects them to run the campaign and voted for Gray Harris. I haven’t watch the video of the AUSD board meeting, but it must have been emotionally charged for the Tam family to see their allies supporting someone that stabbed Niel Tam in the back. Political friendships can be so fleeting.

    Comment by BarbaraK (not Kahn) — July 24, 2015 @ 1:01 pm

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