Blogging Bayport Alameda

November 18, 2021

Too long; couldn’t watch

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

Guys there is something fundamentally broken with the way City Council meetings are conducted. I don’t know how it can be fixed but the fact that the City Council can’t get through more than two regular agenda items in one night before 11 PM is a major problem.

So, first, the meeting didn’t start until 7:30PMish because I guess Closed Session went on for an additional 30 minutes. Second it was 9:20 PM when the City Council finally got to start the first regular agenda item. All the other time was largely spent on the Consent Calendar. Now, the whole point of the Consent Calendar is to get through relatively easy items in one fell swoop but not if you sit on the dais with Trish Spencer. Oh no, then you have like a 50 minute discussion about whether or not the City Council and other Boards and Commissions should be allowed to continue to log into these meetings remotely.

The problem with the City Council is some of the people who are on the City Council don’t have day jobs. So they don’t care how long these meetings go on because they can sleep in the next morning and wake up late and drive to the Dragon Rouge parking lot to go to Coffee Cultures whenever they want because they don’t have to get to a job. So dragging your ass to City Hall and staying until the butt crack of dawn is like no big thing for them. For the people with actual jobs, they want the business of the City to wrap up at 11:00 PM. I mean, as an audience member, I want them to wrap up the business because I care enough to watch but, like, I have to go to bed to get up and go to my job the next morning. I don’t get to have a leisurely mid morning drink at Coffee Cultures.

So here’s a few thoughts on how to not punish the rest of us because some people don’t care about keeping everyone up until 0 clock in the morning.

  1. Limit Council clarifying questions. You should have written out questions before the meeting began.
  2. Time limit on clarifying questions and answers from staff. If you can’t clarify what you don’t understand in five minutes then maybe you should have read the packet before the meeting and sent questions in advance.
  3. Items pulled from the consent calendar get heard at the end of the meeting. It’s not considered new business so the Council can continue past 11 PM to finish hearing the consent items. If Trish Spencer wants to stay until 3 AM to ask about every single bill that was paid on some ledger which was supposed to be approved by consent she can and at least the rest of us can safely peace out.
  4. Move proclamations to another day or time. Do we really need to read proclamations aloud? Do we?

That’s all I can think of right now, but it’s deeply puzzling how this Council allows itself to get so bogged down in the simple act of running a meeting that some times the logistics of running the meetings makes the meeting longer.


  1. My dad learned the secret of short meetings in the military: no chairs. Everyone remains standing for meetings.

    He carried this into his civilian career and was somewhat infamous for having a large wooden conference table with no chairs (a stenographer was allowed a chair but that was infrequent).

    Could that work at City Hall?

    Comment by dave — November 18, 2021 @ 6:26 am

  2. You could come up with all the suggestions you want, but you know that Trish Spencer is doing this intentionally. “Stall & Kill” is her entire game. In this case, stalling on the housing element certification to get more time to rally her troops.

    Comment by Reality — November 18, 2021 @ 7:03 am

  3. It’s literally her one weird trick to make government ineffective and off-putting. Who does this serve? Not the people of Alameda, not city staff, not her colleagues. It serves the council member. It serves people paying $1,700 annually in property taxes who don’t think anyone else belongs here. We ought to be tired of it, as a city, by now. It’s abusive.

    Comment by Gaylon Parsons — November 18, 2021 @ 7:19 am

  4. It also doesn’t help that the mayor inserts herself as broker in between EVERY. SINGLE. INTERACTION. instead of allowing the slightest bit of efficient, free flowing discussion. I get that zoom meetings are challenging and the chair needs to keep things organized, but she has gone way beyond what is needed and it is not helping get through a meeting agenda.

    Comment by cw — November 18, 2021 @ 8:29 am

  5. I agree, I felt like I was just listening to the Trish Spencer talk show instead of an actual meeting. Most of the questions she asked seemed like they could have been asked before the meeting.

    Comment by cinalameda — November 18, 2021 @ 9:25 am

    • This^^. This^^ . A thousand times this.^^

      With Trish, it’s always “Just Say No.” Muck up the works, get nothing done. A total embarrassment.

      Comment by Sleepy Moe — November 18, 2021 @ 10:11 am

  6. I agree that Ms. Spencer’s trying to prolong things; however, all the council members do more talking than necessary. It’s a part of our era that people are afraid if they don’t make their point endlessly, nobody is going to appreciate how woke and wonderful they are. Something happened to the idea of being clear and succinct about what you think and then allowing the pieces to fall as they may. And then there’s the endless thanking of staff who are merely doing their job. That bit of pandering really is tiresome. I agree with a previous poster that the Mayor should rein it all in.

    I could go on. As an old school reporter, who covered local government meetings in the 80s, it’s striking to observe the time that goes into grandstanding and pandering rather than making decisions.

    The one bright moment of the night was when Malia Vella, who can often go on and on herself, cut to the chase on the vote on the contract for the Big Whites, by saying basically, hey there are folks sleeping out in the cold tonight, we made fighting homelessness our priority months ago, yes we should have talked to the neighbors, but let’s get this thing done because these people are human beings.

    We need more of that.

    Comment by Laura Thomas — November 18, 2021 @ 10:29 am

  7. The other problem is that the responsibilities of the city council has tripled due to the pandemic.

    Going forward, perhaps a temporary commission could be formed and tasked with all pandemic related issues – everything from mask mandates, testing, and vaccines to the distribution of federal and state pandemic funds, etc. The temporary commission could take actions – but the city council would have final approval. Maybe the homeless housing issues could be handled by a temporary commission as well.

    This way a lot of the details, questions, concerns, and other issues would be handled before it arrives to the city council for final approval.

    This would also get the city council “out of the weeds”, and make the meetings more efficient. The temporary commissions could be disbanded when they are no longer needed.

    Comment by Karen Bey — November 18, 2021 @ 10:45 am

    • I love this idea but you can almost certainly bet that Paul Foreman and Carmen Reid will take it to the Open Government Commission to explain why “adhoc committees are a bad idea.”

      So you have Trish Spencer’s stall-and-kill strategy by intentionally dragging out the clock, Tony Daysog going along for the ride because he’s a useless abstaining puppet for Bay Farm, Paul Foreman and Carmen Reid ensuring things get slowed down by whatever committees they can interfere in or discredit, and then these usual suspects ratcheting up community pressure (through ACT or AAPS) if they need to by using email lists and social media. This is the whole NIMBY/Olde Alameda strategy in a nutshell. As long as Alameda stays exactly the way it is, with no progress or changes, it’s a win for the Olde Alameda crowd.

      Comment by Reality — November 18, 2021 @ 11:51 am

      • Interesting, I didn’t realize thats what was going on. What about bringing back the Economic Development Commission permanently?

        This commission could take on both economic development, housing issues and all the other issues I mentioned.

        Comment by Karen Bey — November 18, 2021 @ 12:21 pm

  8. Another concern I have is the lack of outreach that was done prior to making the decision to place more homeless housing in the Big White community. None of the neighbors seemed to know what was being planned.

    And how is the question of vaccinations being handled – or is it being addressed at all? There will be 11 or more people per house – most likely not vaccinated if they’ve been unhoused. This is another very important issue that never came up during the presentation.

    Another reason to consider a temporary commission to (1) create more transparency, (2) create more equity, and (3) make sure a lot of these important issues are addressed

    Comment by Karen Bey — November 18, 2021 @ 12:00 pm

  9. Last night, one caller commented that it’s not scattered housing – it’s clustered housing. All the unhoused housing programs are clustered in one area of the City, the West End – and a lot of them are being located at Alameda Point. There is no equity in that at all!

    Fair housing is not being applied here – although it’s being used as part of the RHNA/Housing Element process. There is no consistency in how the Fair Housing argument is being applied.

    Finally, I’d like to learn more about the housing policies of the BACs Housing Resource Centers as part of the in-take process. I’m not seeing any answers on their website:

    1. Do the residents get tested and vaccinated if they’re not vaccinated?
    2. Does BAC take in registered sex offenders? If so, are the immediate neighbors notified? What is BACs policy on this issue? If not properly addressed, you can solve one problem and create a larger one – children being raped. It happens.

    These are all very important questions and issues not being addressed in this new scattered/clustered housing policy.

    Comment by Karen Bey — November 18, 2021 @ 1:57 pm

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