Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 5, 2016

I’ll cover-up you

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

I wrote a bit about this previously, but the overall reaction was:


Because apparently telling a group of people to circumvent public record rules is NBD.

The whole article is now online, here are snippets with the kicker at the end.

Spencer’s advice to the panel members was probably not unlawful, but it ran counter to the spirit of laws created to ensure citizens know how public officials are conducting the public’s business, said Cherokee Melton, a staff attorney for the First Amendment Project, in Oakland.

“My expert opinion is that it’s terrible,” Melton said of Spencer’s comments to the panel. “But I wish I could say I’m shocked. It’s not uncommon. Governments at every level try to avoid a paper trail.”

There are also clear downsides, added Melton. “If all government officials did this, we, as the public, wouldn’t have records of their actions.” The problem of subverting transparency, Melton continued, is exacerbated by the gap between law and rapidly changing technologies.

Spencer’s advice to members of a public panel on how to conduct business in secret also might shock many of her supporters who believe that Alameda City Hall is beholden to special interests and plagued by backroom deal-making—and that they elected Spencer to end those practices.

Alameda Councilmember Jim Oddie said it’s disconcerting that the mayor would make such comments to the Economic Advisory Panel after he and other members of the council specifically decided that the panel should be subject to the Brown Act and Alameda’s Sunshine Ordinance. He said Spencer’s tenure as mayor, when considering her interference in city affairs coupled with “giving a playbook on how to perpetuate a cover-up,” is “unfolding like a Nixonian tragedy.”

White Knighters, mount up!


  1. I had forgotten what the “Mayor’s Economic Development Advisory Panel” is, and what they might be covering up. It looks like they have had one meeting so far.

    On October 13, 2013, staff recommended that the Alameda City Council create a Mayor’s
    Economic Development Advisory Panel (“the Panel”) to enhance the business climate of
    Alameda’s business parks and commercial districts, and support the growth of Alameda’s
    major commercial and industrial business clusters, by providing both strategic policy and
    tactical business attraction and retention advice. On April 5, 2016, City Council confirmed
    the Mayor’s nominees for the Panel.
    As requested by the City Council, staff returned to the Council on June 7, 2016, with more
    information regarding the proposed structure for the Panel and how it will comply with the
    Ralph M. Brown Act (the California Public Records Act) and City’s Sunshine Ordinance,
    including noticing requirements, agendas, public comments and minutes. Staff has
    incorporated this information into the draft Economic Development Advisory Panel Rules
    and Procedures (see Exhibit 1), for the Panel to review and adopt at its inaugural meeting
    on July 20, 2016.

    Comment by MP — October 5, 2016 @ 6:59 am

  2. Not sure I understand the purpose of this panel. It consists of private industry companies who are used to keeping their plans/products that are in various stages of development under wraps until they are ready to go public.

    In such a highly competitive market place – of course they would want to keep some of their conversations private. Why would you want to tell your competition what you’re planning?

    Which brings me back to my point – what is the purpose of this panel?

    Comment by Karen Bey — October 5, 2016 @ 7:22 am

  3. Here’s an example of the highly competitive market place:

    Prologis to start first ground-up development of the $1.2 billion Oakland Army Base redevelopment

    Prologis will build a 256,000 square-foot warehouse on the former Oakland Army Base. Industrial landlord and developer Prologis Inc. plans to break ground on the first ground-up development in the Oakland Global Trade and Logistics Center, a $1.2 billion redevelopment of a former army base.

    Comment by Karen Bey — October 5, 2016 @ 7:57 am

  4. Here’s another one:

    German Auto Components Manufacturer DRÄXLMAIER Investing $24MM to Set-Up Manufacturing Plant in Livermore

    These type of deals aren’t made in a public form. The public doesn’t learn about these type of deals until long after the lease has been inked.

    Comment by Karen Bey — October 5, 2016 @ 8:09 am

  5. how can we find who is on the panel?

    Comment by courtney bonacci — December 15, 2016 @ 8:23 am

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