Blogging Bayport Alameda

November 3, 2021

Legal strategery

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

It sort of feels like the Open Government Commission may be THE spot for recalcitrant Alamedans to grind their axes against the City Council if they don’t get their way. On Monday because some Sweeney Park boosters didn’t get ALL the land they wanted from the railroad and are pissed that the City Council wouldn’t spent every single cent available to secure all the railroad land they decided that their next best option was to gum up some works at the Open Government Commission.

What was really strange about this showing was that the complainant on record was one Dorothy Freeman but during the meeting itself it was Paul Foreman doing nearly all the talking and all the heavy lifting for the complainant; including answering questions that may not have even been directed at the complainants in the first place.

It felt like a way for someone who may have had an “unfounded” ruling in his ledger bypass the possibility of receiving another “unfounded” ruling. As a reminder, if an individual hits a certain number of complaints which are determined to be unfounded they will be barred from filing any more complaints to the Open Government Commission for a designated period of time. I’m being lazy and not looking these numbers up but, like, you really don’t want to get an “unfounded” ruling. It means that the majority of the OGC thought that your complaint was, respectfully, full of shit.

I guess the content of the complaint does matter, the TL;dr of it was the City Council was under threat of litigation (or maybe they were in litigation) from the railroad company which owns a strip of land adjacent to Sweeney Park. They want top dollar for this land because, duh, they had to part with the bulk of it for so very little. The City attempted to say “yeah this land is only worth like $1 million” and the railroad says “no way dude, it’s like $8 million.” And so there were closed session negotiations with both this litigation hanging over the head of the City Council and the reality that land in the Bay Area is super expensive.

The complainants felt as though all these negotiations should have been held in public session which is, I guess, a strategy that I’m surprised that anyone with a law degree would have nodded along to and said, “yes this is a good idea” if they didn’t work for the City’s opponent to understand the City’s legal strategy.

Anyway, I haven’t finished listening to this but from #alamtg twitter it looks like the complaint was denied but the commissioners did not levy the “unfounded” label on this one. Dorothy Freeman survives the unfounded gauntlet to file more OGC complaints for another day.

24 Comments »

  1. The Open Government Commission has become such a joke. Commissioner Carmen Reid, Jay Garfinkle, Dorothy Freeman and Paul Foreman all know each other and are all part of Alameda Citizens Taskforce. The OGC has become a playground for these ACT NIMBY friends to gripe and rail against the city on taxpayers’ dime instead of doing the public’s business. Paul Foreman is unbelievable. On one hand, he works Commissioner Reid like a puppet, obviously coaching her on what to say. Then on the other hand, he uses Dorothy Freeman as the complainant on record while he does all the talking. It’s literally Paul Foreman talking to Paul Foreman. He thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room when to the rest of us it all looks sad and pathetic. The Sweeney Park issue is a valid one to discuss, but these imbecile morons thinking they’re geniuses moving chess pieces on a board is what’s tainting the well of good governance.

    Comment by Paul Foreman Needs a Real Hobby — November 3, 2021 @ 6:49 am

    • I did not “use” Dorothy Freeman. She came to me and asked for my help. Since council had hired a lawyer to defend its actions, she felt the need for legal representation, but not the funds, so she asked for my help. Commissioner LoPolito actually thanked me during the hearing for my volunteer services. I neverr coached Commissioner Ried on what to say. I do admit that one of my “hobbbies” is giving my advice, legal or otherwise, to various governmental bodies and to friends who come to me for assistence in legal matters or referrals to lawyers.. I don’t apolgize for it. I represented various munici[pal bodies when i practiced and believe that I have something to to offer. That does not make me the smartest guy in any room. It makes me a concerned citizen giving folks the benefit of my experience which they can accept or reject.

      It is ok for you to view me the way you do. It is not OK for you to make statements concerning Dorothy Freeman or Commissioner Ried for which there is no factual basis

      Comment by Paul Foreman — November 3, 2021 @ 10:38 am

      • Paul Foreman. I recall there’s another blog post from earlier this year and a comment there where you admitted to having advised (or coached) Commissioner Reid when the complaint about the ad hoc committees came up. The perceived lack of separation between you, who’s made too many unfounded complaints, and a sitting commissioner who also happens to sit on the board of a conservative political advocacy group you are associated with is very concerning. As for Dorothy Freeman, you (Paul Foreman) literally logged onto Zoom Monday night with the name “Dorothy Freeman,” so please don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

        Comment by Paul Foreman Needs a Zoom Account — November 3, 2021 @ 11:15 am

        • When you are done laundering your pant leg you need to go back and read what I said. Carmen Ried brought the Park Renaming Committee issue to my attention as did another citizen. I agreed with her conclusions and decided to file a complaint. I immediately advised her that she would need to recuse herself from hearing that complaint, as she had already reached a conclusion and discussed it with me. Accordingly, she recused herself. Dorothy Freeman’s name was on the zoom screen Monday evening because she, not me, logged into the meeting. I did not log in at all. Of course, who logged in is irrelevant. If your pants are wet, I think you should look to another source.

          Comment by Paul Foreman — November 3, 2021 @ 11:36 am

      • Hi Paul! What time should I come over to discuss our next idiotic plan? Also I’m not sure how many readers she has, but I believe you’ll get through to these nuts, or at the very least gum up the city staff so that nothing works. I am in love with you Paul,…and that is not unfounded!

        Comment by Carman Reed — November 5, 2021 @ 7:53 am

  2. Besides concern about a single individual potentially avoiding sanction, there are two other issues that arose Monday night:
    1. Since individuals and organizations can file complaints, it is possible for the Complaint Cabal to file under organizations. Does it need be an incorporated association?
    2. Since the counsel Kuhn was attorney for land negotiations, is he “neutral” party to craft opinion and advise the OGC? There has been ongoing concern about City Attorney’s “conflict of interest” in these matters as both counsel for City—who complaints filed against—and adviser for Commission, the body adjudicating complaints.

    Last month, Mr. Foreman seemed perturbed about my comment about complaints and the attempts to change rules under “For the longest time.” It is these tactics that folks are observing and formulating opinions based on.

    Comment by Rasheed the Recalcitrant — November 3, 2021 @ 7:18 am

    • There is no “Complaint Cabal” I have filed one complaint since I left the commission in 2015, and have assisted the complainants in the Sweeney Park Matter. Using a pejorative label like this is unbecoming to you. In answer to your two questions:

      1. The Sunshine Ordinance does not define the term “complainants”. I believe that best practice would be for complainants to file in their individual names but identify themselves as members of the Board of an organization. That is what the Jean Sweeney Fund Board, chose to do.
      2. Mr. Kuhn was not appearing as the neutral attorney for the OGC, he was appearing as attorney for the respondent City Council in defending the closed meeting settlement. Therefore his participation in this proceeding was proper.

      Comment by Paul Foreman — November 3, 2021 @ 11:05 am

      • Thank you attempting to clarify.

        The alliterative reference was neither a pejorative (or intended as such) nor in reference to you and/or the Sweeney Squad (alliteration). Its a more general question about whether that could be exploited. If i filed a complaint and it was unfounded, then showed up as part of a group, people may think i was attempting to avoid fouling out of the game.

        That said, although your Complaint Crew (better alliteration?) raised points about public participation, it is difficult not to read this as a group of people (Action Alameda-ACT lineaged) who have opposed affordable housing and zoning reform now using the complaint process as another battle site to oppose potential housing.

        I think it would be “unbecoming of” not “to”, but English aint my first language. Hopefully more unfounded complaints wont be-coming to the OGC. I hope the body and your tenacious task force all have paradigm shifts—thats a Thomas Kuhn reference fwiw.

        ✌🏾

        Comment by Rasheed the Recalcitrant — November 3, 2021 @ 5:17 pm

  3. I say this as someone who is a frequent user of Jean Sweeney Park — I think the city would be better off making improvements to the existing park rather than spending $$$ to buy more land.

    Comment by trow125 — November 3, 2021 @ 10:03 am

    • I 100% agree with you. The vast, vast majority of Jean Sweeney Park looks barren and woefully underfunded. So this isn’t even about buying more land for a park. It’s a smokescreen to stop building more housing, period.

      If you (not “you” in particular, just anyone in general) think people like Paul Foreman and Carmen Reid are all over this for the sake of creating more parks, then you weren’t paying attention in 2019 when they tried the same “save our parks” playbook to try and stop the wellness center (or check out their updated 2021 edition: “save our future non-existent Merchant Marines museum”).

      Just pure, unadulterated, ugly NIMBYism by any means necessary.

      Comment by NIMBYs Gonna NIMBY — November 3, 2021 @ 10:32 am

      • Just to be clear. I did vote against the wellness center for many reasons but did not support the alternative measure to make the land open space for the park. I felt the best use of the land would have been for affordable housing. Also, I did not support the Merchant Marine effort.

        Comment by Paul Foreman — November 3, 2021 @ 11:11 am

        • “I voted against the wellness center” is like Donald Trump saying he invited some friends over to his house on January 6th. You and your organization were at the core of much of the disinformation and fear mongering put out in opposition to the wellness center. At the OGC hearing, you , despite your claimed legal expertise gleefully engaged Carmen Reid in a dialog about zoning of the park, which is so far out of the purview of the OGC that the entire hearing at that point should have been cancelled. You, Reid, Garfinkle and so sullied the integrity of the OGC by trying to use it to achieve your own agendas instead of supporting the will of the community around government processes that the Commission is on the verge of losing its purpose. At the very least Chair Tilos needs to learn how to properly run a meeting, and Reid needs to be sanctioned for her many inappropriate actions she has engaged in.

          Comment by notadave — November 3, 2021 @ 4:35 pm

        • Paul, your “I voted against the wellness center because I wanted affordable housing” is a cheap cop-out to make you look altruistic without costing you anything. We both know there is no reality where the federal government would magically forget about the McKinney-Vento Act and the city of Alameda somehow comes up with the $40 million to purchase federal land and build 20 affordable homes that costs, what, $2,000,000 per unit? That is cowardice masquerading as performative leadership. I cannot wait for the day your Alameda Citizens Taskforce shrivels up and disappears, they have done nothing good for Alameda in a very long time.

          Comment by Enough Already Paul — November 3, 2021 @ 6:21 pm

        • Thank you for the edit and the advice. When they attack me or someone else without justification it is hard to stay silent.

          I am not thinking for a minute that I will change the minds of these nuts, but I don’t know how many others read for information and are misled. Is there a way to determine the size of her audience?

          Sent from my iPhone

          >

          Comment by Paul Foreman — November 3, 2021 @ 6:45 pm

        • “I voted against the wellness center” is like the FBI saying they invited some friends over to congress on January 6th.

          TIFIFY

          Comment by John Shasky — November 4, 2021 @ 10:22 am

  4. Our complaint to the OGC was about your right to be heard in City of Alameda issues. It was also about a promise made that was changed without your input. The final decision to not purchase the land for the park was made in February. At least two council members believed at that time the public had a right to speak on the issue and brought a council referral saying just that. One of the Council members who made this request is an attorney. Council Member Knox-White stated at that meeting “ because we do not make decisions in closed session; we do give direction – and then we come out and we hear from the public about those decisions before we vote on them publicly.” then went ahead and voted to make the decision in closed session. I am an advocate for the land purchase, but having this decision heard in open session would have given everyone, those for and those against, the land purchase a chance to voice that opinion.

    To the people who live on the Southern border of the park, this is a very big issue. The decision has a great effect on the original design so the city had to pay the landscape architect to redesign the park without the railroad land. The park does have a vast area that is not yet completed. That is simply a financial problem. Director Wooldridge is always looking for grants to work on those areas not yet completed. She has filed for a grant to do the western end where the community gardens had to be moved because of the loss of the UP land.

    Now to the issue above. I asked Mr. Foreman (and yes, I do know him) to help us with the legal issues of our OGC complaint. Thankfully for us he was very gracious with his time. Mr. Foreman is a retired attorney and judge. He has a right to speak out on legal issues as well as many other retired attorneys do. TV land is full of them. While you may not agree with Mr. Foreman’s opinions you should not fault him for continuing to speak out about issues here in Alameda. Many more people should.

    Comment by daf4wpblog — November 3, 2021 @ 12:25 pm

    • Remind us, where did Mr. Foreman practice law and sit on the bench????

      Comment by Eyeroll — November 3, 2021 @ 4:04 pm

  5. Lauren, This is to clarify and correct your post.

    1. The Jean Sweeney Park Fund is not just a “booster”. it is a properly incorporated organization that provides funding and volunteer services to the park.
    2. The complainants were not happy with the downsizing of the original park plans, but their complaint was not on the merits of the settlement but the fact that it was accepted in a closed meeting and with no public explanation or opportunity for public input.
    3. I have already posted an explanation of my involvement in my reply to comment #1 above, so I will not repeat it here.
    4. The UP was not suing the city. The city filed a eminent domain action against the Union Pacific when if was unable to agree upon the price for a voluntary sale of the land to the city.
    5. The Union Pacific was not the railroad from which the current park was obtained, so their placement of a higher value for the parcel had nothing to do with the original land purchase..
    6. Most in error is your statement that the complainants wanted the negotiations to be in public. Complainants’ written position statement attached to OGC agenda concedes that negotiations should be in a closed meeting. Their position was that once the city attorney presented the proposed settlement in the closed meeting and recommended the same, he should have asked Council to consent to presentation of the settlement for approval at a properly noticed public council meeting, where after full public hearing it would be voted upon, all as mandated by Sec. 3-10 of our City Charter.

    The Commission found this to be a very close issue and determined it founded, but denied the complaint. For the basis of their denial, we will need to wait for the written decision. One of the points raised by a few of the Commissioners was that since the agreement is now fully executed, nothing will be accomplished by a re-do in public. I agree that it is unlikely that the 3-2 vote would change and the open meeting would not assure that any explanation of the reason for this settlement would be forthcoming from Council, but what would happen at least giving the public the opportunity to express themselves to council in a public setting.

    Comment by Paul Foreman — November 3, 2021 @ 12:58 pm

  6. how would you like to come before this guy when he was a judge.?

    Comment by John P. — November 3, 2021 @ 3:47 pm

    • With a sleeping bag and pillow.

      Comment by BC — November 3, 2021 @ 7:27 pm

  7. Jesus fucking Christ, Paul, suck your own dick much? Can you maybe see about doing it with fewer words next time? You have stolen precious minutes from my life that I want back.

    Comment by Rod — November 4, 2021 @ 7:34 am

    • Please, let’s keep things civil.

      Comment by anonymous bart — November 4, 2021 @ 9:49 am

      • Why? Look at the wall of civil text above. It’s a bunch of wordy bullshit from a dude with a history of being downright shitty for this town trying to convince people he’s really the good guy. He’s not the good guy. Alinsky once said that ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. You don’t debate people like this. You mock them.

        Comment by Rod — November 4, 2021 @ 10:48 am

      • Sucking dick can be done with civility. I’ve seen it in chambers countless times!

        Comment by Carman Reed — November 5, 2021 @ 7:58 am


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