Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 25, 2017

All night long, but not the fun Lionel Ritchie version

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

Last Tuesday night’s City Council meeting was really just a master class on what not to do in order to move along a public meeting in an orderly fashion.  I did mention the part where it feels like everyone hates each other on the City Council right?  I mean, yeah some folks may not be enemies but there’s no way that these people actually enjoy hanging out with one another for hours at a time every two weeks.  No way.

There were some super painful portions that I may get into some other time, but it’s just too traumatizing to go back and have to listen to Trish Spencer and Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft snipe at each other over every single little thing.  I did want to address this super head scratching moment though during the Council Referral portion.  The City Council decided instead of ending the meeting at a reasonable 11 p.m. they were going to try to hear every single item on the agenda including the held over Council Referrals.  I could have told everyone that was a bad idea, but *shrug*.

They all realized how late it was and so Frank Matarrese wanted to table the remaining of the items to avoid having to make a motion to boot the items not yet heard to another meeting.  Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft points that that a City Staff person has been waiting all night long for this particular Council Referral item about the Housing Authority.  So they decide to go ahead and hear that particular Referral because they’ve made this lady wait so long.

Did I mention that practically all of the time management issues on the City Council could be solved if the City Council wasn’t hell bent on micromanaging every single fucking thing.  No one is exempt from this critique by the way.  They ALL do it.   It’s one thing to have questions to help guide policy, it’s another thing to want to pick out the right shade of red for a red curb.

This didn’t happen but I bet you actually thought that it could have happened, right?

Anyway, Frank Matarrese had a Council Referral to bring the Housing Authority governance back under the fold of the City Council after the two had been bifurcated sometime in 2012.  Apparently they all got some bitchy emails from residents of Independence Plaza super upset about new management.   Frank Matarrese, and apparently Jim Oddie too, felt as though since the Housing Authority doesn’t have an elected governing body they’re not accountable to anyone if someone wants to complain because they can’t have overnight guests or something.

When the Housing Authority Executive Director gets up to speak she explains why the Housing Authority was split off in the first place: better firewall between the assets of the two and in order to shield the City from liabilities that might stem from the buildings and facilities managed by the Housing Authority.  The additional reason was because the Housing Authority is a “retail business” and the rep of the Housing Authority can go up and down (as can the City of Alameda) depending on how happy or upset people are with the entity.  Keeping them separate would mean that they would be able to stand alone however the rep of one another rises or falls.  It all makes perfect sense.

But, again with the micromanagement, both Frank Matarrese and Jim Oddie felt as though some elected official should be accountable when people are unhappy that their lease terms are enforced or something.  Fortunately the ladies on the Council weren’t necessarily buying that argument.

And this, folks, is the kind of time suck that happens over and over again at the City Council micromanaging things that should never be managed by a policy body in the first place let alone micromanaged.




  1. well. there ARE a lot of different shades of red. Even if it’s just for curbs. Wouldn’t want to leave that in the hands of amateurs…..
    oh! wait……

    Comment by Jordan1324 — April 25, 2017 @ 6:37 am

  2. Meetings could also be shortened if staff members were not always expected to give presentations summarizing the reports that are attached to the agenda and presumably already read and generally understood by councilmembers and the interested public. Councilmembers can always ask questions of staff. Off course, that is not a failsafe. Sometimes the questions asked are leading or asked when the councilmember already knows the answer but is seeking to make a point. There is a public education element of some value that comes from the presentations and leading questions, but it comes at a cost in terms of time.

    Comment by MP — April 25, 2017 @ 7:14 am

    • I do agree that it is a part of the problem, the other part needs to be done at the ballot box. However in this day and age, if the presentations were recorded and put on line so people could watch ahead of time, that would save time and allow the general public more access to options to stay informed. MP is completely correct there is no reason to do them there. It was my husband’s biggest complaint at AUSD meetings. They are literally reading what is written and explaining obvious charts. I certainly don’t blame staff. It is how it has been done for a while and we all get in a rut. Time to change it up a bit.

      Comment by Barbara — April 25, 2017 @ 9:16 am

  3. My dad learned in the Marines that meetings went a lot faster when everyone was standing rather than sitting. In his business career he took the chairs out of his conference room & meetings were held standing around the table. They were efficient.

    Comment by dave — April 25, 2017 @ 7:20 am

    • Dave, I like that idea, but with this council we should make them stand on one foot.

      Comment by JohnP.trumpisnotmypresident. — April 25, 2017 @ 10:36 am

  4. I will say it again…”I am afraid of them and for them” Tick, tock folks.

    Comment by Il Cane di Ferro — April 25, 2017 @ 10:03 am

  5. We should remember that council meetings have always lasted into the wee hours of the mornings at times so this is not an issue of this group alone. At this point, I find it frustrating that they had an all-day meeting to get through the long list of referrals which was hijacked by the city manager and became a referral prioritizing session. That in itself was not so bad – I could see some merit in this but they still have not addressed referrals high on the priority list that are over a year old with major consequences to the development of Alameda housing projects but it was OK to interject new referrals such as becoming a sanctuary city (just HAD to be done before something in Washington happened – I don’t recall what it was) and impeaching the president.

    Comment by Nancy Hird — April 25, 2017 @ 5:08 pm

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