Tuesday night Trish Spencer got her wish last night and put to kibosh on building an assisted living facility on Bay Farm for senior citizens. Well done. I’m sure that is a moment that will go down in the books as heroic and worthy of accolades. After all, a bunch of senior citizens would surely destroy the “character” of a Harbor Bay Business Park. Rather than housing a vulnerable segment of our population I’m sure that the most superior use, as suggested by a few public speakers, would be to house cars for ferry parking instead.
Anyway, more of this some other time, maybe, I’m pretty generally disgusted since typically when people opposed other residential type developments it’s caveated by saying that they would support that project if it were something like senior housing, but when senior housing is offered there is an amnesia as to Alameda’s collective hard on for senior housing as an alternative to people with kids and cars.
I’ll point out that if I were the applicant I would probably be looking into some way to disqualify that vote since Trish Spencer had already made up her mind prior to the hearing at the Planning Board even having been heard or concluded. But that’s just me.
But since we’re on the topic of Trish Spencer and overstepping her role/not understanding her role/not understanding governance in general, I’d like to point you toward the Alameda Magazine column by Editor Robert Gammon. Highlights:
At issue is that many of Spencer’s supporters seem to think the mayor is in charge of City Hall. And Spencer seems to view herself as some sort of personal crusader for Alamedans who have a beef with the city’s bureaucracy.
In Alameda, the mayor is merely the ceremonial head of the city council. As such, it’s illegal for Spencer to interfere in the day-to-day operations of the city or to tell department heads, like the police chief, how to do their jobs. Spencer can’t even tell the city manager what to do. The reason is that under the Alameda City Charter, the city manager reports to the council as a whole—not the mayor. Indeed, Spencer opposed the hiring of current City Manager Jill Keimach but was overruled by her council colleagues.
Now, this arrangement might seem odd—or even wrongheaded—to many Alamedans. After all, don’t we want to elect officials who will “get things done?” Of course we do. But under Alameda law, the mayor and the council are supposed to get things done by passing laws and allocating public funds in ways that improve the lives of residents. And it’s the job of the council as a whole to hold the city’s bureaucracy accountable by holding the head of it accountable: the city manager.
Maybe we’ll see a Council Referral on how to change the form of government to a strong mayor one, but given the levels of incompetence right now with our current Mayor I can’t imagine anyone being too keen on changing the charter to make those accommodations.