Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 15, 2015

Justify my love

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

Even though most everyone else without a real definitive position on the whole Special meeting regarding the old Harbor Bay Club site at Packet Landing could not figure out why Trish Spencer abstained in voting to affirm the existing zoning at the site.  This was low hanging fruit in the world of politics.  It’s not really making any decision since there was no application before the City Council, in the grand scheme of things this should have been an easy gimme for all the members of the City Council to vote in favor of, particularly the City Councilmembers celebrated by the Harbor Bay Neighbors as the protectors of the Harbor Bay’s “feel.”

But instead of puzzling out why it was that Trish Spencer abstained, the Harbor Bay Neighbors took her at her word that she abstained out of “an abundance of caution” as a means to justify their past and continued support of Mayor Trish.

I wonder if other City Councilmembers that were not Trish Spencer would have been given such the benefit of the doubt had they opted to abstain.  My guess is they would not.  In Twitter postings, one of the leaders of HBN further justified her non vote by offering a “well we already had three votes so it didn’t matter anyway.”

Ah, profiles in courage!

The framing of this non vote by Trish Spencer is ironic considering that both Frank Matarrese and Trish Spencer took much more hard line stances during the campaign than the positions that resulted from this affirmation of the existing zoning.  And they used their “bravery” to have an opinion to consistently flog their opponents for being cautious about speaking about a potential project application before it had even been submitted.  Both Frank Matarrese and Trish Spencer signed the HBN petition and Trish Spencer touted it in her campaign materials:

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 5.51.41 AM

In a report during the campaign this is how the Harbor Bay issue was framed and the supporters of both Frank Matarrese and Trish Spencer — including those applauding Trish Spencer’s “abundance of caution” — roundly criticized Marie Gilmore, Stewart Chen, and Jim Oddie for their “abundance of caution”:

Similarly, when questioned about a proposal to build new homes at the site of the current Harbor Bay Club, the three declined to answer, arguing that the issue could potentially come before the City Council in the future, and so if they voiced an opinion about it now, they might have to recuse themselves later from voting on it. “I really envy the candidates who are not in office because you are at-will to speak your mind,” said Chen. Even though the controversial plan to tear down the aging Harbor Bay Club and build new homes and a conference center on the site was withdrawn earlier this year, Gilmore and Oddie took the same position as Chen. “You cannot make up your mind before the idea comes to council,” Gilmore said. “It’s ethically wrong.”

In an interview afterward, Matarrese, a former councilmember for eight years, contended that Gilmore, Chen, and Oddie were just making up an excuse to avoid answering a tough question. “Does that mean if I’m Barbara Lee — and I’m against the war — does that mean if a war-funding bill comes up that I can’t vote on it?” Matarrese said. “I thought we were legislators, not judges.” Matarrese, however, said he would recuse himself from any Harbor Bay Club vote if elected because he owns property within 300 feet of the club, and thus could benefit financially from new development on the site. Spencer opposes the plan because it likely would bring additional traffic to Bay Farm Island.

Spencer, a school board member known for speaking her mind, opposes most development plans in Alameda. “We know there are housing developers that want to come here and build, build, build. We know that. Is that best for Alamedans? No. Many of us do not want that,” she said. “That is why I’m running. We have housing development that is occurring way faster than any real solutions to address the transportation issue.” [emphasis added]

This seems to be pretty much Trish Spencer’s leadership style though, her real super power though is not her leadership abilities, but her abilities to vote against (or in this case, not vote for) her supporters’ interests but still have them be protective and defensive of her, and consider her to be the most awesomest mayor ever.

She turned her back on her Harbor Bay Neighbors supporters, but they still support her.

She voted for the Del Monte project after bringing the appeal herself and then voting against her own appeal.

She’s voted to make way for more residential housing units than her predecessor and that is not even an updated list to include the City Venture development.

She voted to expend more money on the City’s budget, despite her being heralded by her supporters as the leader to rein in spending.

She voted for the new fire station even though her supporters claimed that a fire station was unnecessary in Central Alameda and should have been shuttered anyway.

I’m sure there are more examples, but those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

That is an amazing super power, but at some point she will be forced to make a decision that will solidly alienate her base, until then, it will be interesting to see how many more times she can vote against her supporters’ interests before they realize that.


  1. Haha- you’d better ask the City Attorney why TS abstained…

    it was the City Attorney’s legal opinion that MG followed in not commenting on HB moving. That lost the election for MG. Remember, it will be HB’s legal position that TS and FM cannot vote in any real (not advisory) vote on HB’s proposed move due to their campaign comments.

    Contrary to your analysis, it was the other members of the City Council who finally followed TS in only now understanding the importance of this issue in getting votes for reelection. It was their votes which meant nothing to the process except garnering political support.

    Comment by Captain Obvious — October 15, 2015 @ 6:30 am

  2. I always appreciate reasoned, principled, and logically consistent votes from my elected representatives…

    Comment by Jon Spangler — October 15, 2015 @ 7:03 am

  3. The question is, is she dumber than her base? Judging from their wonderfully awful letters to the Sun, I think her base may win that contest.

    Comment by BC — October 15, 2015 @ 7:13 am

  4. “It was their votes which meant nothing to the process except garnering political support.”

    Can you explain how their votes didn’t prevent a change the General Plan or Zoning Designation, Captain? It must be obvious but I’m not seeing it.

    Comment by brock — October 15, 2015 @ 11:06 am

  5. The quote from Sen Boxer on Carly Fiorina applies to Trish Spencer during the election and afterwards: “She will say anything to get elected and she will step on anyone…” although Spencer is not as smart or eloquent as Carly.

    Comment by BarbK — October 15, 2015 @ 3:19 pm

  6. Carly can be articulate, but “eloquent”? Her little rant at the debate about the Planned Parenthood tapes makes Boxer’s point and it made me cringe.

    Comment by MI — October 15, 2015 @ 4:49 pm

  7. TS is truly odd. On one of our first visits to Peet’s, a woman came up, grabbed my hand and said, “I want to thank you for your support,” and walked off. She did not introduce herself, nor did she ask my name. My husband told me she was Trish Spencer and was on the school board. I had never supported her, nor do I ever intend to.

    Comment by Linda — October 15, 2015 @ 7:55 pm

  8. Mark Irons: Have you watched any of the Planned Parenthood videos? The largest and oldest fetal body parts vendor in the entire United States has been headquartered right here in Alameda on the top floor of the Alameda Times-Star building for the past 25 years.

    ABR is a proud member of the Alameda Chamber of Commerce.

    Comment by vigi — October 16, 2015 @ 9:50 am

  9. 8. And Trish Spencer is active with the Chamber of Commerce, and so by extension….

    Comment by BC — October 16, 2015 @ 3:18 pm

  10. 8. just came in from CERT class and a little too exhausted to watch any video right now, but am I going to see dissection of live squirming baby, as per Carly’s inference in her flailing hyperbolic rant at GOP debate? Just need warning so I can be prepared with popcorn and beer.

    Comment by MI — October 17, 2015 @ 3:53 pm

  11. 9. Why does everything you write about have to do with Trish Spencer? It doesn’t. Does Alameda feel comfortable with the principal peddler of human flesh in the United States being right here in downtown Alameda?

    10. No. No live dissections in progress. Just people talking about doing them and picking thru the pieces for the good stuff they can use. Maybe you don’t find it ghoulish. Some people do.

    Comment by vigi — October 18, 2015 @ 1:22 pm

  12. hey CAROL GOTTSTEIN! Wasn’t that you who honked loudly at me just now ( Saturday 10/24/’15, 9:39 a.m.) from half a block away before roaring past BiG O through intersection of San Jose and Park going at least 35 mph? Disabled placard in window of your cream colored SUV. What was it, a Lexus? Even if it was a Hyundai, you are a hypocrite extraordinaire because of your insane driving and horn blast. If you can afford that car how come you can’t afford your own computer? Oh, because you’d have no lame excuse to lurk in public corridors. Next time you see somebody poised at curb side and think they may step off ( from a 100 yards away), the brake is that other peddle on the left.

    Comment by MI — October 24, 2015 @ 10:07 am

  13. I love this blog.

    Comment by BMac — October 24, 2015 @ 10:48 am

  14. Gosh, Mark Irons! First you complain when I don’t even notice you at a Council meeting. Now you complain when I honk to say hello??

    The person about to step off the curb was about to cross in front of me on a RED LIGHT. I had the green light. I guess if I’d known it was you I wouldn’t have honked a warning TO WAIT FOR A GREEN LIGHT BEFORE CROSSING THE STREET, JACKASS.

    If I brake for a green light in the middle of an intersection, I am liable to get rear-ended. Scofflaw pedestrians like you who cause these accidents just walk away unscathed.

    and my car is sixteen years old.

    Comment by vigi — October 24, 2015 @ 2:22 pm

  15. I didn’t recognize you because you seem to have put on more weight.

    Comment by vigi — October 24, 2015 @ 2:25 pm

  16. Hey, I think that car has almost hit me on my bike too as I was biking up Grand. Does it have a vanity plate?

    Comment by BC — October 24, 2015 @ 4:35 pm

  17. 14. my weight gain is not recent. It’s called middle age. Nice you should respond with a a gratuitous insult though, kinda like like Donald Trump when he has dropped in the polls.

    I can usually cross safely at that intersection when a car is a full half block on the other side of the intersection and not closing at fifteen feet a second. I assume you would have waved once I was pasted to your windshield. Kind of ironic you are such a speed demon since your physical disability started when you were hit, but I’m sure you had the right of way because you always do.

    Comment by MI — October 28, 2015 @ 5:11 pm

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