Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 3, 2015

Chill and out

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am


I was following some live tweets of the City Council meeting from Tuesday night and let me tell you, it’s nothing like actually watching it yourself.

I knew the appointments process was going to be crazy, but it exceeded all expectations.  There were nine speakers — all that advocated for Dania Alvarez — and one comment I’ve clipped below because it was surprising how upset Planning Board member Lorre Zuppan was because, typically, she never gets that ruffled over anything:

I’m very concerned by the process that’s happened with this nomination because I feel that it is a process of intimidation for sitting volunteers on every board.

To disrespect the effort of a good performing member puts into a council or commission is really, in my opinion, a matter of bullying. Because the reason those members are typically excluded is because they expressed an opinion or a point of view that is not aligned with the person.  It suppresses expression on all of the boards because if you speak out of line with the Mayor who’s appointing the members you won’t be reappointed.

That’s Lorre Zuppan who probably — of all the sitting Planning Board members — I would have guessed would be a lock for reappointment under a Trish Spencer administration.

And then this comment by Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft:

I have also heard from a number of Board and Commission members that the Mayor told them that she attends these meetings to see how they vote and wants to appoint people who share her political position.  This concerns me as a lawyer because of what I would call a chilling effect. I want to have well qualified individuals serving on our boards and commissions and they don’t all have to agree with my political perspective, but I want independent members who will render objective decisions based on staff reports and that would includes the applicable laws and regulations.  Public testimony, meeting with applicants, meeting with the community and all that we do to make a decision rather than voting the way they think the Mayor wants them to vote in order to be reappointed.

Unfortunately these two comments and the other comments (which I’ll try to tackle in a later post) did not move Trish Spencer at all.  Who stood by her two nomination after a lackluster Q&A session after which she declared that she was “so impressed” by both candidates.

Lest you are actually convinced that Trish Spencer actually chose the two candidates because she’s “fair and balanced” (her words) I’ll point out that when Jim Oddie moved to separate the other nominations for the Commission on Disability Issues (2 commissioners), Public Art Commission (1 member)  , Recreation and Park Commission (2 members), and Transportation Commission (1 member) to put those to a up or down vote sans the Planning Board nomination that’s when the politicking began.  Oddie’s motion was quickly seconded by Frank Matarrese.  After it was seconded Trish Spencer then asked to remove ONLY Chris Miley from consideration.

Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft pointed that the motion had been made and seconded and called for a vote which Trish Spencer voted against.

Yes, that’s right Trish Spencer voted against her nominations to the Commission on Disability Issues, Public Art Commission, Recreation and Park Commission because she wasn’t able to pull Chris Miley’s nomination for consideration.  After all, she had stalled on reappointing Chris Miley who was in the same position as Dania Alvarez: competent and capable commission/board member who had put in the time and was interested in being reappointed by somehow had ran afoul of Trish Spencer.  Somehow, in Trish Spencer’s mind, pulling Chris Miley’s nomination would be either (1) leverage to get her two Planning Board picks rammed through or (2) punishment for Jim Oddie (and later Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft) for daring to do their jobs as City Council members and use their best judgement on who should be seated on the Boards and Commissions as opposed to simply rubber stamping Trish Spencer’s picks.

I’m not sure if that falls under “fair” or “balanced” in Trish Spencer’s world.



  1. who else who is on the PB is not in their second term and will be up for reappointment?

    I think Trish really would have preferred to replace Miley, but because bicycle thing is such a glaring bone of contention and maybe the fact that he is an ethnic minority and she didn’t want to go there, she opted to put all her leverage on the board with more clout. Since Dania is not in glaring opposition to Spencer positions I figure she wanted to get ahead of the curve with precedent for replacing people who are up for reappointment.

    Great that Frank seconded Oddie’s motion. Did Tony do any hand wringing a la King Solomon ?

    I get that the one nominee is anti-Cowan, but I’m unclear on the angle for nominating the other guy. This was not a situation where even a more deft politician could make a move which was not obvious.

    When I was on HAB there was a guy who was unabashed and snarky about blatantly ignoring our purview and voting no on everything. He was a place holder for Measure A supporters and eventually Johnson asked him to step off mid term, but I think he was past 8 year mark. He moved also. Don’t know that it has anything to do with the current process, but it’s history of board appointments

    Zuppan’s comments are actually much more nuanced and poignant than the editorial by Mike Hennenberry which also made the point that Dania is well qualified and dedicated.

    Funny, if she was trying to replace Knox White with Eugenie some folks might protest but there would be none of this dancing around. After all, 50% plus 140 elected her to shake things up.

    Comment by MI — September 3, 2015 @ 9:01 am

  2. The other guy is, supposedly, a placeholder for the “new blood” in Alameda. Except for the fact that the “new blood” seat is pretty well represented by Kristofer Koster.

    Also, I guess it’s not so obvious, but by not reappointing Dania Alvarez, Trish Spencer stripped the Planning Board of its only person of color and replaced her (and Stanley Tang who opted to not reapply) with two more white folks.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 3, 2015 @ 9:30 am

  3. I like Dania and would like to see her stay on the board. Why do you, and so many other people, have to make it a color issue???? Can’t you see people as people, not a color?

    Comment by Hugo — September 3, 2015 @ 9:53 am

  4. Because “people” are a sum of their experiences, including how they are treated and interact with the world because of the color of their skin.

    From a OpEd in the Guardian:

    “Colorblindness” doesn’t acknowledge the very real ways in which racism has existed and continues to exist, both in individuals and systemically. By professing not to see race, you’re just ignoring racism, not solving it.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 3, 2015 @ 10:01 am

  5. Trish Spencer should go through the anti-bullying curriculum that she voted against while she was on the AUSD board, as she is getting a reputation for lacking cultural and ethnic sensitivity (racist) and representing the newbies in Alameda who “got theirs” and won’t share.

    Comment by BarbK — September 3, 2015 @ 10:20 am

  6. post # 3, your asking a person who is a minority, speaking about another person who is a minority, to not see people as a color, I think we (white folks) are the ones who should be asked that question.

    Comment by John P. — September 3, 2015 @ 10:41 am

  7. I think Dania would use the same color foundation that I use on my face. No one would refer to me as a “person of color”.

    Someone mentioned that her parents fled Cuba when Castro took over.

    Does that alone make her “a person of color”?

    Does the name Alvarez make her “a person of color”?

    Comment by A Neighbor — September 3, 2015 @ 10:42 am

  8. I am gonna go ahead and speculate that her backers demanded this clear move in order to maintain their $upport on the next go ’round. After her votes for Site A, Del Monte, & EOC/Station 3, even if she thinks she can explain them away due to circumstances or political reality, the NO MORE DEVELOPMENT crowd needed some proof that she was serious.

    My assumption is that Trish will do enough to keep the support of the NO MORE crowd for her re-election run in 2018. I suspect after getting re-elected to Council in ’16, Ezzy-Ashcraft will run for mayor in 2018 w/out the risk of losing her vote. If Frank ran for mayor, he would risk his vote and he is probably enjoying being the most important member on the council right now.

    2018 would be a good year to run for council and come in 3rd place, assuming E-A runs for mayor. Even if you can’t knock off Frank or Oddie, you stand a pretty decent chance of getting to complete E-A’s remaining two years.

    Comment by BMac — September 3, 2015 @ 10:46 am

  9. I think how people act and treat others is important and how they are judged, not the color of their skin. When you start bringing up color, it makes us different.
    It would be great to get past all this and get along, not constant reminders as to how we look different. Some people are not at all visual. Gee, does eye color, house color, car color count too?

    Comment by Hugo — September 3, 2015 @ 10:49 am

  10. The quote from post# 3 referred to “color” I used the term “minority” as in Asian or Hispanic.

    Comment by John P. — September 3, 2015 @ 10:49 am

  11. Being Cuban means she’s Latina/Hispanic therefore “person of color” which typically refer to people of non European heritage.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 3, 2015 @ 10:50 am

  12. When you start bringing up color, it makes us different. It would be great to get past all this and get along, not constant reminders as to how we look different.

    Because we are different. You’re different than I am, and I am different that you are. My experiences as an Asian female shape my world and how I interact in the world much differently than you as a — I’m assuming — white person. The way I look is the visual cue for people to treat me however they interact with Asian people in general. You may not judge people by their race, good for you, that doesn’t mean that others do not and that those interactions have not shaped the POC experience.

    I notice the lack of POC representations on Boards and Commissions because of my experiences as a person of color.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 3, 2015 @ 11:03 am

  13. #12–
    Why not just refer to Dania Alvarez as a Latina, then?

    How does having parents or grandparents born in Cuba have to do with someone planning what to build in Alameda?

    Comment by A Neighbor — September 3, 2015 @ 11:09 am

  14. 7. Your ignorance makes her a person of color.

    Comment by BMac — September 3, 2015 @ 11:21 am

  15. I was one of the speakers in favor of Alvarez. Spencer claims that her selection process was unbiased, and that she conducted the interviews as if they were job interviews. I shudder to think how many days a company would survive with Spencer making personnel decisions. The credentials of the male who was selected above Dania Alvarez were that he volunteers at his kids’ school and he attended a few council meetings. I can claim the same credentials. Actually my credentials are superior because I said more at Tuesday’s meeting than he did. He said he’s in favor of retaining Alameda’s charm and controlled growth. Quite a visionary. He got the slot instead of the incumbent Alvarez, who’s been in the teeth of difficult situations with the Planning Board and was the most respected and popular member of the board, according to the board members who spoke Tuesday.

    Comment by Larry Witte — September 3, 2015 @ 11:40 am

  16. This from posts 5.: “…the newbies in Alameda who “got theirs” and won’t share…”

    If only wordpress supported emoticons!

    I submit the opinion to the blog that, on balance, it is the “oldies”, much more than the “newbies”, who “got theirs and won’t share”.

    Prop 13 anybody? Measure A? “My kids are are already done with public school so why would I support a School Bond?”

    Comment by Brock — September 3, 2015 @ 11:41 am

  17. FYI…the emoticon I desired to include there was: 5 x “crying while laughing face”

    Comment by Brock — September 3, 2015 @ 11:43 am

  18. 8. if Spencer had voted against Site A, Del Monte, & EOC/Station 3, then I might understand her jumping to replace anybody and everybody who voted FOR them. That would be consistent. Maybe we should think that Stanley has been replaced by the new guy, just because he was “so impressive”, and Dania has been replaced by the new woman whose application said she was “NOT A REALTOR”, because she’s NOT A REALTOR. I’m sure Trish would have appointed POC if there had been suitable ( in her camp) minority applicants, just for optics if nothing else. Were there other applicants who are POC?

    Comment by MI — September 3, 2015 @ 11:53 am

  19. Hugo’s point is well-taken. From the Free Dictionary:” Though often used interchangeably in American English, Hispanic and Latino are not identical terms. Hispanic, from the Latin word for “Spain,” has the broader reference, potentially encompassing all Spanish-speaking peoples in both hemispheres and emphasizing the common denominator of language among communities that might sometimes seem to have little else in common. Latino—which in Spanish means “Latin” but which as an English word is probably a shortening of the Spanish word latinoamericano—refers more exclusively to persons or communities of Latin American origin. Of the two, only Hispanic can be used in referring to Spain and its history and culture.”

    I have 2 friends surnamed Alvarez-no relation to Dania-who are very proud of their Spanish, ie European, heritage. They don’t consider themselves “persons of color”. Does being Hispano-European still make you a minority or person of color? I think your “person of color” argument is ridiculous in this context. Especially since you never acknowledge the mayor’s Mexican heritage.

    BTW, using your reasoning, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are “persons of color”. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, chica.

    Comment by vigi — September 3, 2015 @ 1:54 pm

  20. Sigh, Marco Rubio (Cuban) and Ted Cruz (Cuban) are persons of color. Because they are Hispanic/Latino. Because according to the Census:

    Definition of Hispanic or Latino Origin Used in the 2010 Census
    “Hispanic or Latino” refers to a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 3, 2015 @ 2:18 pm

  21. One more for the people totally confused by the term “people/persons of color”, from NPR’s Code Switch: The Journey From ‘Colored’ To ‘Minorities’ To ‘People Of Color’ quoting from the Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity and Society:

    “People of color explicitly suggests a social relationship among racial and ethnic minority groups. … [It is] is a term most often used outside of traditional academic circles, often infused by activist frameworks, but it is slowly replacing terms such as racial and ethnic minorities. … In the United States in particular, there is a trajectory to the term — from more derogatory terms such as negroes, to colored, to people of color. … People of color is, however it is viewed, a political term, but it is also a term that allows for a more complex set of identity for the individual — a relational one that is in constant flux.”

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 3, 2015 @ 2:29 pm

  22. If anything, your own argument demonstrates that “POC”-of the same color-do not think or vote alike. So what is the point of pointing out that someone is a person of color in the first place? You seem to imply that a POC is supposed to be a placeholder for a particular viewpoint, when that is not at all the case.

    I’m with Hugo. All your line of reasoning does is put POC and non-POC [non-Hispanic white, I guess] on opposite sides of some arbitrary fence. Sounds divisive to me.
    We are all Alamedans. Not Ethno-Alamedans.

    Comment by vigi — September 3, 2015 @ 2:47 pm

  23. We all want to think we aren’t swayed by a person’s gender or ethnicity, but what if the situation was opposite of what we just witnessed? Imagine a Latina with NO experience getting picked over an incumbent white male with decades of experience and the full respect of the members of the Planning Board. There would be an outpouring of anger over affirmative action and preferential treatment of women and minorities. Dania’s the MOST qualified person for the Planning Board. Our mayor chose other candidates for the most important board in the city.

    Comment by Larry Witte — September 3, 2015 @ 3:10 pm

  24. you ever notice how people love to argue semantics rather than the issue.

    Comment by John P. — September 4, 2015 @ 7:12 am

  25. #12 As far as people getting along, let’s try focusing on how we are similar. When we focus on how we are different it can alienate people; it sure does that to me. Who wants to think they do not fit in if their eye, skin, hair, house color is different? We live in a diverse community. Let’s find what we have in common to bring us together. My belief that all this PC rhetoric is doing the opposite of what the PC people claim they want (equality for all, or whatever the point is supposed to be). Thank God we have differences, or it may be a very boring world.

    Comment by Hugo — September 4, 2015 @ 8:30 am

  26. All City business and meetings could be conducted via phones and radio, thus making ethnicity and color irrelevant.

    Comment by Not A. Alamedan — September 4, 2015 @ 8:50 am

  27. Sorry, or Internet. My age bias is showing.

    Comment by Not A. Alamedan — September 4, 2015 @ 8:51 am

  28. As far as people getting along, let’s try focusing on how we are similar

    It’s not necessary to focus on how we are similar in order to get along. That’s the whole point. We can get along and you can accept and embrace that I am different and that I look different and that my ethnic background means that I have a whole host of different experiences than you had when you grew up.

    Unlike a house color, I can’t wash away the color of my skin or change the shape of my eyes. Similarly the experiences that I have because of the color of my skin and the shape of my eyes cannot be discarded because it makes people feel uncomfortable to talk about issues of race.

    My belief that all this PC rhetoric is doing the opposite of what the PC people claim they want (equality for all, or whatever the point is supposed to be).

    Perhaps if you don’t know what “the point is supposed to be” for people who discuss issues around race perhaps you can ask instead of dismissing concerns as “PC rhetoric.”

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 4, 2015 @ 9:07 am

  29. 27. you seem to miss the point here that, despite having a black president for example, America is not post racial. It’s not that minorities are clinging to difference so they can complain, it’s about the fact that the differences often matter, significantly. We are just recognizing that. People who are different than a majority like having representation once in a while. I realize you think you mean well, but the glibness of your posts on this, prove the point. If you had ever run face first into fall out from being in majority ( other than minorities complaining about white privilege) it might be easier to empathize.

    26. while appreciating your altruism about diversity, even if we attempt to move ahead focusing on commonalities as a first priority, differences matter sometimes and we need to acknowledge when they do.

    Just listen to Donald Trumps sneering references to China (“We want deal!”) and consider his wide appeal and tell me ethnicity doesn’t matter.

    Comment by MI — September 4, 2015 @ 9:13 am

  30. 29 and 30. As a white male with a Latina wife and Chinese daughter, I agree with you 100%.

    Comment by Larry Witte — September 4, 2015 @ 9:49 am

  31. Unlike a house color, I can’t wash away the color of my skin or change the shape of my eyes. Similarly the experiences that I have because of the color of my skin and the shape of my eyes cannot be discarded because it makes people feel uncomfortable to talk about issues of race.


    Perhaps your world view has been shaped more by the thinness of your skin rather than its colour, and by the blinders on your eyes rather than their shape.

    Comment by maybe it's just you — September 4, 2015 @ 10:14 am

  32. I cannot see what your skin or eyes look like via this post. Names cannot always tell a person’s background. All I see is the words and that you are trying so hard to make your point correct and final one to prevail. Maybe I hit a nerve.( Did you have a younger sibling???) Is there a group who has not been persecuted for their backgrounds, religion, or beliefs? Let me know, I will join them. Everyone experiences mean, ignorant people; no person is an exception. While people have different reactions and experiences, none are unique. We just have too many people in this world to think that one person or group is the exception. It is our present and our history.

    Southerners ,Northerners, Italian, Irish, Catholics, Protestants, Sikhs, amputees, Raider fans, Nazi’s, Koreans…..etc. We all have a story to tell of our hardships we feel were caused by those who did not agree with us and see it our way.

    Comment by Hugo — September 4, 2015 @ 10:47 am

  33. you forgot Jews…

    Comment by vigi — September 4, 2015 @ 10:52 am

  34. 32. yeah, all those Black Lives Matter people are just P.C. whiners. Actually Fox News is right, because a couple of them chanted about frying pigs like bacon, that makes them a HATE group, don’t you agree.

    Maybe it’s just YOU and your lack of empathy. What ethnicity are you by the way?? Or do you need to keep that anonymous too?

    33. give that speech to Emmett Till.

    Comment by MI — September 4, 2015 @ 11:03 am

  35. Donald Trump flippantly invoked his disdain for PC as frivolous, as he has more important things to deal with, like being a self important bloated demagogue.

    Words matter:

    Comment by MI — September 4, 2015 @ 11:09 am

  36. As a white male, I just can’t see why anyone thinks race matters….

    Comment by BC — September 4, 2015 @ 11:29 am

  37. post #33, as a white Italian male I can’t begin to tell you how hard my life has been, can you even begin to realize how many “Pizza” jokes have been made about me, or being called a spaghetti bender, or worst of all hey “WOP”, will you join me in my new group, ” the Italian anti defamation league”. are you kiddin me “Black Lives Matter” what about us poor Italians??.

    Comment by John P. — September 4, 2015 @ 4:33 pm

  38. I say let’s hear a cheer for the DIPFs. Yes, the Daughters of the Irish Potato Famine. We are not all drunks, shrunken green guys with funny hats, or fish eaters. If I hear the words “Mackerel Snapper” one more time, well . . .
    The irony is that no one has ever pulled me over while driving white and old, or followed me in a store because I fit their idea of someone who steals, or not gotten in an elevator with me because I look like someone who might attack them. Of course all lives matter, but for those who are truly marginalized, as a society we unfortunately consider some lives more worthy than others based on “non-merit” factors. I have overheard, yes, right here in AlamedaMayberryUSA, people say, about the killing of a Black youth, “Well, at least it is Black on Black crime.” That young person bled red, same as I would have.

    Comment by Kate Quick — September 4, 2015 @ 10:16 pm

  39. 37, 38, 39.- Well played Alamedans. Well played.

    Comment by BMac — September 5, 2015 @ 12:51 am

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