Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 22, 2018

Why you gotta be so rude

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

Tuesday night’s City Council meeting is the poster child for the dysfunction that is the Alameda City Council.

They were able to get through one regular agenda item.


And not even a whole one since they didn’t even really finish the agenda item on the bond issue.

But before I get into that hot mess of a discussion, I wanted to clip out this piece of Mayoral leadership. This bit comes on the heels of her being really condescendingly rude to the consultant who did the polling work for the bond. Apparently Trish Spencer doesn’t seem to understand that these polls are not informational tips about the bond to the voting public, but rather to get a sense of what sort of messaging and priorities prospective voters would be more likely to support. At one point she kept up at least a 30 minute back and forth with the consultants asking essentially the same question over and over again. I suppose she does this in order to catch someone in a gotcha type moment, but it’s super time consuming and Trish Spencer was positively frothy at the end of her cross examination.

But here’s an unnecessarily awful bit from Trish Spencer that was so incredibly rude that Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft couldn’t hold back.  The lead up:  Trish Spencer is asking why thee is a recommendation that community members and not the City Council sign off on the ballot statement.

Psst, Trish Spencer, the reason why is because there needs to be a show of solidarity to get these big bond measures passed and everyone is afraid that you’ll pull another Measure C move and first support and then write a ballot initiative against it.  Like you did before.  You know that, they all know that.  No one wants to say it out loud, but that’s why they don’t want any City Councilmembers to use their titles on the ballot arguments: to forestall lack of solidarity.

Anyway, here’s Trish Spencer in her full magnanimous mayoral glory.



  1. Summary of 2016 Approved and Passed Bond Measures:

    City of Albany Sidewalk Repair Special Parcel Tax
    (Measure P1)
    10-year special parcel tax to fund sidewalk improvements in the city of Albany

    City of Berkeley General Obligation Bond
    (Measure T1)
    General obligation bond for infrastructure and facilities improvements
    Broad eligibility, including transportation

    City of Oakland Infrastructure Bond
    (Measure KK)
    10-year infrastructure bond to support transportation, housing, anti-displacement, and other purposes
    Transportation, housing, and other

    City of Martinez Road Improvement and Maintenance 1/2-Cent Sales Tax (Measure D)
    15-year, 1/2-cent sales tax to fund road maintenance and improvements

    City of Pleasant Hill 1/2-Cent Sales Tax (Measure K)
    20-year, 1/2-cent general sales tax which could fund various city services and infrastructure
    Broad eligibility, including transportation

    City of Mill Valley Municipal Service Tax (Measure H)
    10-year municipal service tax extension with revenues dedicated to fire safety, street maintenance, and road repair
    Broad eligibility, including transportation

    Town of Fairfax 3/4-Cent Sales Tax (Measure C)
    10-year, 3/4-cent sales tax measure to fund city general operations and capital projects, including street repair (increases and extends the existing Measure D sales tax)
    Broad eligibility, including transportation

    City of Belmont 1/2-Cent Sales Tax (Measure I)
    30-year, 1/2-cent general sales tax increase for city priorities, including congestion relief and street repair
    Broad eligibility, including transportation

    City of East Palo Alto 1/2-Cent Sales Tax (Measure P)
    1/2-cent general sales tax to fund city priorities, including street repair
    Broad eligibility, including transportation

    San Mateo County 1/2-Cent Sales Tax (Measure K)
    20-year extension of Measure A, a 1/2-cent general sales tax, to fund city priorities including transit and affordable housing
    Broad eligibility, including transportation and housing

    Santa Clara County Affordable Housing Bond (Measure A)
    30-year bond to fund affordable housing for low- and moderate income households, including first-time homebuyer assistance

    Santa Clara County Valley Transportation Authority 1/2-Cent Sales Tax (Measure B)
    30-year half-cent sales tax to fund the final leg of the BART extension to Silicon Valley, Caltrain grade separations and capacity improvements, and high-priority local street and road repairs

    City of Fairfield 1-Cent Sales Tax (Measure P)
    15-year extension of Measure P, a 1-cent general sales tax which funds city priorities including street maintenance and repair
    Broad eligibility, including transportation

    City of Suisun 1-Cent Sales Tax (Measure S)
    10-year, 1-cent general sales tax with revenues directed to a variety of purposes, including road and street infrastructure maintenance and repair
    Broad eligibility, including transportation

    City of Vacaville 3/4-Cent Sales Tax (Measure M)
    20-year, 3/4 cent general sales tax measure to fund city priorities, including road repair (increases and extends the existing Measure M sales tax)
    Broad eligibility, including transportation

    City of Vallejo 1-Cent Sales Tax (Measure V)
    Extends Measure B, a 1-cent general sales tax which funds city priorities, including road work
    Broad eligibility, including transportation

    Comment by Karen — February 22, 2018 @ 7:20 am

  2. I have been following Alameda politics for almost 20 years. First as a resident, now as someone who loves the island. This is, in my opinion, the worst council ever. You have three council members who are there for themselves and their ego and two council members who actually want to do good for the island and the people. The rudeness and back stabbing only take away from the job they were elected to do. I hope the next election brings about change for the good of the island.

    Comment by Eyeroll — February 22, 2018 @ 10:08 am

  3. “…Trish Spencer doesn’t seem to understand that these polls are not informational tips about the bond to the voting public,” Excuse me, but as someone who DID stay on the phone for 25+ minutes being polled, I was extremely upset at the end with the way the poll was conducted. The poll should have been honestly informative about whether it was a bond or a tax, and it wasn’t. The first 15 minutes were about whether I was supportive of a BOND to fund pothole repair, increased traffic safety, clean drinking water…Well who wouldn’t be? {Phone polls don’t give you time to remember that these are things that should already be funded by existing taxes, and EBMUD monthly service charges] . Towards the end, suddenly the question was: would I support a new parcel tax to do this? Of course not. So I asked the pollster: is this a bond or a direct parcel tax? Because you’ve been asking me about things I believe in supporting, but calling it a bond–suddenly you’re calling it a TAX? You should have stated that clearly from the beginning! The pollster could not answer the question. I asked her to change the previous positive answers I gave, but she could not.

    Without having viewed the clip, it seems to me the mayor was absolutely correct to grill the pollster. She probably got complaints from constituents. There is a history of pollsters duping Alameda residents into approving local taxes. A prominent example is the hospital parcel tax. Judge Bartalini originally campaigned for the hospital tax, but later wrote a letter to the Alameda newspapers stating that he felt it was misrepresented and he could not support it. But by then the measure was on the ballot, with supporters of record listed, and what was already printed could not be undone. Alameda Hospital continues to get poor ratings from Leapfrog with no improvement in sight and no end to the parcel tax.

    Lauren, for a property owner, you sure seem to like parcel taxes. You never question them. That is very strange.

    Comment by vigi — February 22, 2018 @ 2:19 pm

    • It’s a poll. You didn’t have to take it, you could have hung up on the pollster if you felt uncomfortable with the line of questioning. The poll is trying to gauge the level of support in order to (1) make sure they can design a bond measure that will have some level of support and (2) what sorts of projects would voters like to see funded if a measure is voted on by the voters of Alameda. It wasn’t a “push poll” it wasn’t even designed to inform you about the bond itself. People who want to see nefariousness everywhere will find it everywhere.

      Regarding my willingness to pay for taxes: because public services and infrastructure need to be paid for. If I lived in a city as long as some people purport to have and have used more than my fair share of services and infrastructure without paying a commensurate amount of taxes, I certainly wouldn’t be questioning those out there who have lived here for a much shorter duration but yet because of neat-o laws like Prop 13 probably have paid more in property taxes than those long term Alamedans. Because those long term Alamedans, with their significantly lower property taxes, gave city governments less to work with thereby contributing to all the deferred maintenance they currently complain about but which now needs to be paid for through bond measures.

      Comment by Lauren Do — February 22, 2018 @ 2:55 pm

      • You seem to naively believe that every time government asks for more money from taxpayers, the government will use that money wisely and actually for the purpose for which it was collected. Actually most tax money ends up paying for creating new bureaus, with new staff, with larger salaries and benefits, When the new administrative costs to deal with an identified problem are finally paid, there is little or no money left to deal with the original problem. So yet another bond or tax is suggested, with another study or poll the first expenditure.

        It is clear from your posts that you did not actually take the poll. Nor do you understand the responsibility of the pollster. Most people being cold-called about an issue first want to know what the pollster is talking about. And bottom line how it will affect them. I didn’t know without asking, and if I hang up on the pollster, I’ll never find out now, will I? Being allegedly “superwonky” about Alameda, you are really out of touch with the majority of voters.

        Do you even understand what the taxes you are already paying are supposed to be doing? Maintaining streets and infrastructure is supposed to be what taxes have always done. If government has wasted and mismanaged the tax money while deferring maintenance, it isn’t the taxpayers’ fault. And for God’s sake–new taxes for clean drinking water? In 2018 we cannot guarantee clean drinking water yet? My EBMUD bill is more than $60/month even when my water usage is ZERO. What is Lena Tam doing at EBMUD anyway?

        New taxes for new conveniences we didn’t have before, that I can understand. But when asked for more money to fix long-standing ignored problems, all I want to know is: “What did you do with the taxes I already paid you?”

        Comment by vigi — February 23, 2018 @ 10:49 am

  4. Can the hospital tax be repealed? What would it take?

    Comment by bayporter — February 22, 2018 @ 6:42 pm

  5. Ugh, BART loves to spend money on constructon but can’t manage the system ready in place. Maybe we should make Trish a BART director to stall the project.

    Comment by michonnekatana — February 22, 2018 @ 11:45 pm

    • Machete of the Walking Dead, you make a great point, the swipe at Trish notwithstanding. Since the City of Alameda cannot maintain the streets and infrastructure it has already built, ther should be an immediate moratorium on building anything new until all the deferred maintenance is taken care of. Without new taxes.

      Comment by vigi — February 23, 2018 @ 10:55 am

  6. If you ever attended a school board meeting between 2006 and 2014 where the school district was considering a revenue measure (parcel tax or bond), no one should be surprised with cat and mouse questioning done by the Mayor. Under the guise of transparency, staff was questioned over and over again about specific points.

    Comment by Mike McMahon — February 25, 2018 @ 8:57 am

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