Blogging Bayport Alameda

August 14, 2015

Just give me a reason

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

Just wanted to remind folks during the City Council hiatus that when the City Council does return in September, one of the first few things that they will be voting on is to approve the Mayor’s nominations to the Planning Board and the Transportation Commission.

Trish Spencer nominated Chris Miley (after months of him waiting around) when it looked like she was going to put Eugenie Thomson’s name up for the space.  Eugenie Thomson’s name only appeared on the list before the meeting when Trish Spencer announced her picks.

For the Planning Board, Trish Spencer decided to not give Dania Alvarez the nod despite universal acknowledgment that Dania Alvarez has done a good job on the Planning Board.  President of the Planning Board, Mike Henneberry, penned this OpEd earlier this month and I know other Planning Board members have shown their support for Dania Alvarez.  Highlights:

So why, when legions of former mayors have routinely reappointed Planning Board members who had not yet served out their terms, did Mayor Spencer choose not to continue the tenure of Alvarez on the board?

As Planning Board president. I urged Mayor Spencer to reappoint the sitting Planning Board vice president because she is a consummate Alamedan, would not have to overcome a learning curve, is a vital and critically important part of the Planning Board dynamic and if the mayor reappointed Alvarez, a seat for a new member would still be available. These arguments fell on deaf ears.

It is the mayor’s prerogative to nominate citizens to boards and commissions. However, I believe that the mayor owes Alvarez an explanation as to why she was not reappointed. There is no obvious reason why a Planning Board member who was performing so well should not have been reappointed. I intend on attending the City Council meeting Sept. 1 to raise this issue. I urge all Alamedans who are interested in fair play to do the same.

It will be interesting to see if other Planning Board members and perhaps other community members appear to ask Trish Spencer as to why she was not reappointed.   And if Trish Spencer declines to adequately explain (or explain at all) why she did not reappoint a competent and active Board Member–  I’ll point out that as recently as the meeting before the last Planning Board meeting Dania Alvarez was still willing to volunteer to sit on a Planning Board subcommittee which is a heck of a lot of work — perhaps the City Council should decline to approve her current nominations to the Planning Board.



  1. On the one hand, Ms. Alvarez is an excellent PB member and it is curious that she wasn’t re-appointed. If I was on the dais, I’d have re-appointed her.

    On the other hand, I don’t recall such questions from you when Gilmore appointed a fist swinging thug who votes on issues that directly benefit his employer.

    Mayoral Prerogative is Mayoral Prerogative, even if you didn’t vote for that mayor.

    Comment by dave — August 14, 2015 @ 6:21 am

  2. 1. If you are personally attacking and inaccurately describing a current PB member and officer–neither of which are appropriate or necessary behaviors–I would like to point out that there was a *vacancy* on the PB at the the time.

    Given that Dania Alvarez is an excellent, qualified incumbent who wanted to continue, it is an entirely different matter. It is highly unusual–one might say highly irregular–for any mayor to replace her with someone else. If I were on the City Council, I would oppose making such an unjustified and apparently “partisan” move, *even if* someone as well qualified as Alvarez were being appointed to take her place. Continuity and institutional memory are key factors in having a successful city planning board, and ours is generally superb.

    It would take someone very special, indeed, to outperform Ms. Alvararez, who ably represents the perspectives of families and women on the PB. Why reduce the capabilities of the current PB?

    Comment by Jon Spangler — August 14, 2015 @ 6:51 am

  3. We agree, Jon, that Alvarez is an excellent board member.

    However I am unable to see any “personally attacking and inaccurately describing a current PB member” anywhere in post #1. Could you take a moment and point such out for me?

    Comment by dave — August 14, 2015 @ 7:01 am

  4. I agree with Jon, I think post #1 is way over the line. post#3, now let’s play word games.

    Comment by John P. — August 14, 2015 @ 7:16 am

  5. Oh, bye the way Dave I do agree with the last sentence in your first post.

    Comment by John P. — August 14, 2015 @ 7:20 am

  6. 5

    If you agree with that last sentence, JP, then why do you find it out of line to question another Mayor’s very controversial appointment? Or to point out the discrepancy between questioning one and giving the other a pass?

    And please tell what is “way over the line” in post 1. Is there anything inaccurate in it?

    Comment by dave — August 14, 2015 @ 7:26 am

  7. On the other hand, I don’t recall such questions from you when Gilmore appointed a fist swinging thug who votes on issues that directly benefit his employer. [emphasis added]

    The distinction is that I’m not necessarily questioning Trish Spencer’s picks for the Planning Board, but rather her decision to not, in the tradition of all Alameda mayors, to re-appoint an interested and competent Board member. Trish Spencer has been very bristly about “tradition” when there is a suggestion that business be conducted slightly differently than it has been done in the past, but — apparently — not in this respect.

    By the way I believe that quote above is the one that both Jon S. and John P. considered a personal attack.

    Additionally, fun fact: Mike Henneberry first applied for the Planning Board in 2008 under the Johnson administration, so clearly something he’s been interested in for a while and was not actively solicited for political purposes.

    Comment by Lauren Do — August 14, 2015 @ 7:33 am

  8. Dave it wasn’t way over the line, I just wanted to get your Friday off to a good start. As for Mayoral prerogative, it is also the prerogative of the four other council members to approve or disapprove of the Mayors appointments. As they and the rest of the city will have to live with those appointments for perhaps four years after they are made.

    Comment by John P. — August 14, 2015 @ 7:38 am

  9. Let’s all agree on a sunny Friday morning that not having Eugenie Thompson (P.E., let us never forget) on any board is good. I’m happily surprised the mayor didn’t place one of the more ardent and monomaniacal members of her supporters’ club on the board.

    Comment by BC — August 14, 2015 @ 7:51 am

  10. 7

    With so much public record documenting said fists’ swings in a workplace environment, was I wrong to believe they’d ever been swung?

    Comment by dave — August 14, 2015 @ 7:51 am

  11. Why on earth would Dania Alvarez be reappointed? She doesn’t fit the “us” v. “them” mold of Alameda politics. Throughout the whole Del Monte PB process, Dania went from the skeptical “the neighbors shouldn’t blame the developers because they (neighbors) have too many cars” to “providing some parking is reasonable because we’ve heard from the neighborhood and looked at the information they’ve provided and it is important that we listen to the community.”

    I agree that “tradition” isn’t always a sufficient reason to do anything (unless that tradition is rooted in logic or involves baking cookies with grandma). But there is no compelling reason NOT to reappoint Dania. She listened to the community and stood up for what (dare I say it) the ardent Trish supporters wanted: parking for Del Monte residents.

    Other than “Trish has a right” and “Gilmore appointed her” what is the rationale for not reappointing Dania?

    Comment by Alison — August 14, 2015 @ 8:31 am

  12. If you want to “gotcha” Spencer I think the point about her constantly referring to tradition is a pretty good one. Aside from mayor’s prerogative, is it not also tradition for council to rubber stamp her nominations? Is it possible that tradition will fall as well? As for Hennenberry, I know he was supposed to have followed the manager into the store and slapped his cell phone out of his hand. I don’t mean to split hairs or defend his actions, just want accurate account. In terms of “fist swinging”, I didn’t recall the manager getting punched. Gilmore could have asked for his resignation and didn’t, but that incident was BEFORE he was appointed dave. Just sayin’.

    Comment by MI — August 14, 2015 @ 8:57 am

  13. The guy the mayor has appointed to replace Ms. Alvarez- what’s his claim to fame? I don’t recognize his name from blogs, City Council meetings, campaign literature or police reports. Who is he, what has he done to or for the city or the mayor to be anointed?

    Comment by Not A. Alamedan — August 14, 2015 @ 9:12 am

  14. #12 Mark Henneberry was appointed by Gilmore effective 6-7-11. The incident occurred 11-7-12.

    Comment by frank m — August 14, 2015 @ 9:23 am

  15. 13. with two new appointments, is it clear who is replacing who? The other appointee has some creds, but seems to be a one issue appointment ( anti-Cowan). As an aside I think appointing a union rep is a little off, when there may have been other people with much broader expertise. It is great when there is development like Target that a union person is ready to step up to vote for things like limiting grocery at Target to protect union jobs, etc. , but that is also a one note. Others voted with much greater general expertise also voted to limit grocery without being directly involved in unions. Just sayin’.

    On the whole union thing, it is sad that in order to have clout at the national level to help counter the effect of Koch Brothers economic influence on elections that it pretty much requires being in lock step with unions from the grass roots on up to that level. It’s a bitter pill which doesn’t sit well with me, because for me bullshit is bullshit. But bottom line, when push comes to shove I’m with the unions.

    Comment by MI — August 14, 2015 @ 9:25 am

  16. I haven’t looked closely at the applicant’s information yet, but it isn’t unusual for people to apply because they are driven by a single-issue. In the case of the “anti-Cowan” applicant, if they are directly impacted (live there, perhaps even just being a member of the HBC) wouldn’t they have to recuse themselves from any HBC vote? This has happened in the past – someone gets on PB because they have a personal stake & finds that they can’t vote on that issue.

    Comment by Alison — August 14, 2015 @ 9:56 am

  17. From the Alameda Sun — “According to a police report . . . Henneberry punched store manager John Morin in the face and threw Morin’s cell phone across the store.”

    Comment by Oh the Irony! — August 14, 2015 @ 11:34 am

  18. next time John Morin shouldn’t hold up his employees disability check. Since we are being so factual, was Mr. Henneberry ever convicted of assault or any crime having to do with that incident??

    Comment by John P. — August 14, 2015 @ 11:48 am

  19. John P. here is a legal definition of assault and battery : Two separate offenses against the person that when used in one expression may be defined as any unlawful and unpermitted touching of another. Assault is an act that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent, harmful, or offensive contact. The act consists of a threat of harm accompanied by an apparent, present ability to carry out the threat. Battery is a harmful or offensive touching of another.

    I wasn’t there, but in the world of hearsay this lay person thinks maybe assault occurred. Lack of charges don’t ultimately determine what happened.

    On the other hand, dave and Irony are nothing if not consistent in the dogged criticism of all things unions.

    Irony, 1) it’s the Sun and 2) “according to police” pretty much means that’s what Morin complained to them, which is just his version. One might infer that Hennenberry hauled off and smashed the guy in the face, but I seem to recall that the impact to the face was part of knocking the phone away as Morin attempted to call the police. None of it is good, but there is a huge difference between a sucker punch and swatting a phone.

    Comment by MI — August 14, 2015 @ 2:43 pm

  20. Even if Morin “held up” disability checks, I’m not sure that justifies getting punched in the face. According to the Alameda Journal, after the initial charges were filed, the DA’s office added a charge of resisting arrest. No doubt the Alameda Police Department was in cahoots with Nob Hill management when they added that charge. Then after the strike was resolved, the charges against Henneberry were dropped “in the interest of justice” — which can be translated as “time to put all of this behind us in the interest of labor peace.” So no, Henneberry was not convicted. But as far as I know, he also didn’t sue Nob Hill for false arrest or slander.

    Comment by Oh the Irony! — August 14, 2015 @ 3:00 pm

  21. So at the end of the day some folks who don’t like unions or Mike Henneberry decided to throw some mud at him. He’s still the planning board president, and your not.

    Comment by John P. — August 14, 2015 @ 3:58 pm

  22. #21 I was a Union Officer my entire career. My wife is a Teamster Shop Steward. I just don’t condone violence. The entire purpose of setting up a Picket Line is NOT to cross it. This whole thing about a Disability Check is confusing. Why would someone’s Disability Check be inside a store? Perhaps he was holding up the paperwork on a claim but that is still no reason to enter the store as this under Workmen’s Comp or Social Security. When a Picket Line is established tensions are high. From what I have read there were UFCW members who chose to cross the line and work so this ups things higher. Really so much of this is he said/she said and it happened long ago and like you said the charges were dropped. I just question the judgment of crossing the line in the first place. There is nothing good that can come from this.

    Comment by frank m — August 14, 2015 @ 4:21 pm

  23. Just want to make clear that this Link in no way reflects on Mike Henneberry but have people seen this?

    Comment by frank m — August 14, 2015 @ 4:38 pm

  24. Just to make sure that I understand… the consensus of this group is that Dania Alvarez should not be reappointed to PB because Mike Henneberry is a union official. Got it.

    Comment by Alison — August 14, 2015 @ 5:10 pm

  25. Here is what I got out of it. Dania Alvarez was appointed by Marie Gilmore, who had a different approach to planning and development. Mayor Spencer wants the PB to reflect her ideas on the same subject, and so replaced her with an appointee more closely aligned to her way of thinking. It did not matter what Ms. Alvarez did or didn’t do, she was selected to go to make way for Mayor Spencer’s appointee. This is allowed under the rules. Some don’t think this is right, although it was done according to form, but that means that they must either work to replace the current appointment system or the current appointer, as the most they can do right now is complain and object. The deed is done and the Mayor is not going to reverse it because she is criticized. I’m pretty sure about that.

    As to the issue with respect to Mr. Henneberry, it is a red herring, meant to confuse the issue and throw mud at another member of the Planning Board that the mud slinger apparently doesn’t like. I would certainly like it if we could stick to the issue instead of constantly churning up muck, much of it old and stale, that does not contribute to the understanding of the pros and cons of the dialogue.

    I will now get a posting throwing some muck my way so the muck-raker can have his due. Does it every time; so predictable.

    Comment by Kate Quick — August 14, 2015 @ 5:48 pm

  26. Kate, the thing about Dania not getting reappointed is that Mike Hennenberry made a big deal about it in a public letter. I tend to agree that the bottom line is that, Trish gets to pick cause them’s the rules, but there is also the thing about this having never happened, or not that anybody can remember. As for the red herring part, I guess you are right but Mike wrote the letter protesting something you yourself are admitting is sort of as foregone conclusion. All I care about is to determine exactly the facts, but as Frank says it happened a LONG time ago. I tend to agree with the summation in 20. : after the strike was resolved, the charges against Henneberry were dropped “in the interest of justice” — which can be translated as “time to put all of this behind us in the interest of labor peace.” I disagree adamantly with the continued inference in 20 about a “punch in the face”, because it the facts about what went down were never established. I’m relived that somebody with long union ties ( Frank) does question the act of crossing the picket line.

    For me the bottom line is: even if the mayor picking members is tradition, so is the approval by council and I don’t suppose the majority of council will try to veto, but wouldn’t it be interesting if they did, or if some of them at least chose to comment. And I’m not talking about Tony making some long hand wringing speech to play both side of the room.

    Comment by MI — August 14, 2015 @ 7:04 pm

  27. I did read Mike’s letter. I pretty much know who likes and does not like him, particularly due to his Union connections. I would not have done as Mayor Spencer did, but her motivations are clear and she was within the rules. Short of malfeasance or neglect of duty I think it is discouraging to serve on a public board, especially one that takes so much time and study as the Planning Board, and then be dismissed without cause. As Mike was the one who spoke up publically he has drawn the attention of the people who like to go for personal attacks instead of making an appropriate argument. That’s his punishment for disagreeing with Dave and his minions. I just wish they would stop that and stick to the issue at hand.

    Comment by Kate Quick — August 14, 2015 @ 9:27 pm

  28. For any who may have missed it or forgotten it later in the discussion, here is the first sentence of the first comment Dave made about this: “Ms. Alvarez is an excellent PB member and it is curious that she wasn’t re-appointed. If I was on the dais, I’d have re-appointed her.”

    Comment by First Things First — August 15, 2015 @ 7:20 am

  29. Thank you, #28, for actually reading what I wrote.

    The point of this was to highlight our blogmistress’s partisan hypocrisy, very poorly cloaked by feigned interest in good government.

    To wit, Henneberry was/is an employee of a union. He has voted on items that directly benefit his employer by pumping up its headcount and this its dues, which pay his salary. To appoint him to a position that allows such votes for his direct benefit is deeply flawed and his failure to recuse himself is outright corruption. (That it is legal does not change that it is corrupt.)

    Our blogmistress never questioned Gilmore’s mayoral prerogative even when she tapped political contributors to plum jobs. A person truly interested in civic affairs & good government would never countenance such behavior. Yet she did, and in that she was joined by many here. Those same parties now question the current mayor’s prerogative to make a flawed choice (though corruption is not the flaw here.) They were silent when the last mayor made worse choices.

    It’s a free country and people can support whomever they choose. Hypocrisy & sanctimony are fair game. So is noticing those things.

    As for mud & muck, truth is an affirmative defense.

    Comment by dave — August 15, 2015 @ 9:05 am

  30. post #23, perfect example of getting off topic and trying to throw a little more mud at those terrible union people. post #28 here is Dave’s other quote from the first post. ” On the other hand, I don’t recall such questions from you when Gilmore appointed a fist swinging thug who votes on issues that directly benefit his employer”. “Hypocrisy & sanctimony are fair game. So is noticing” another Dave quote.

    Comment by John P. — August 15, 2015 @ 10:17 am

  31. OK, so I guess pointing out bad behavior by specific union members is off limits. Got it.

    Comment by Oh the Irony! — August 15, 2015 @ 11:10 am

  32. #30 JohnP I found the Article in Lauren’s Twitter DEE DEE feed on the top of the page yesterday so don’t blame me.

    Here is the UFCW Local 5 comment on Mr. Rush

    Comment by frank m — August 15, 2015 @ 11:31 am

  33. 31

    The real lesson is that only the other side engages in bad behavior. Lauren’s side never does.

    Comment by dave — August 15, 2015 @ 11:42 am

  34. Actually, I think that watching some of the “cool kids” getting their knickers in a knot when someone challenges the behavior of one of their clique to be pretty comical.

    Comment by Oh the Irony! — August 15, 2015 @ 12:11 pm

  35. “The real lesson is that only the other side engages in bad behavior. Dave’s side never does.” now doesn’t that sound kinda childish.

    Comment by John P. — August 15, 2015 @ 1:54 pm

  36. If comments cleave strictly to what Lauren’s post describes then going off on unions is a total digression and though exploring tangents has it’s place, but the sub text to the ongoing discussion of things Spencer is always with whom do we align? Trish must represent a conundrum for you and Irony, dave. On the one hand Spencer is anti- development (which Irony has stated he/she isn’t, just cautious about traffic) and as the anti Gilmore, Trish doesn’t cow tow to unions, except she did back Gray Harris for BOE, whom you both disdain. Arrg! Actually that endorsement is somewhat consistent for Spencer based on her AUSD tenure, but looking to Spencer for consistency is like looking to Donald Trump for same. And we get about as much substance on policy from Spencer as from Trump.

    Poor Dania. Just a conscientious hard working, well qualified volunteer, without obvious alignment, even though she was Gilmore appointee. On re-reading his full op-ed, I’m giving Mike Henneberry his due on a point well made (regardless of his own history), which Lauren’s post simply reiterates: at least give us a reason. Conclusion has nothing to do with being cool kid wanna be, just boiling it down.

    Comment by MI — August 15, 2015 @ 2:43 pm

  37. Except for the fact that I pointed out that Henneberry should have recused himself on the sole vote and here that overlapped into his professional world.

    Comment by Lauren Do — August 15, 2015 @ 5:38 pm

  38. Yes, he should have recused himself but would not. He was a poor choice from the beginning for that reason alone, as Gilmore knew (or should have known) he’d be voting on such items that directly benefit him. She chose him anyway: mayor’s prerogative. Kinda funny that a guy whose nomination was a poor choice but a mayoral prerogative is now whining about another mayor’s poorly exercised prerogative.

    You (nor he) never squawked about Marie’s prerogative, but now Trish’s is an item of concern. Goose/gander.

    Comment by dave — August 16, 2015 @ 9:14 am

  39. Don’t know anything about Chris Miley personally but his Facebook profile and Friends are Public. His list of friends include a member of the current CC and several past members. Actually include most of the Politicians from the entire Bay Area. And many Union people also.

    Comment by frank m — August 16, 2015 @ 11:06 am

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