Blogging Bayport Alameda

December 6, 2021

Selective service

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

Tonight is definitely one of those nights that if you’re at all interested in the drama of city government you should tune in. It’s not a Planning Board meeting or a City Council meeting, it’s an Open Government Commission meeting. Specifically on deck tonight is a complaint which has been lodged by former OGC member Rasheed Shabazz regarding the City’s failure to produce Councilmember Trish Spencer’s communications on NextDoor.

The TL;dr all of the attachment of the complaint is thus: complainant files PRA, there is confusion at the City level as to who is supposed to respond back to the complainant. Months go by and there’s no response so complainant follows up. City says they have no responsive records. Some back and forth from complainant and City where complainant points out that Trish Spencer has records responsive to this and City saying they don’t have access to NextDoor even though they have a public information account which has interacted with Trish Spencer on NextDoor. After then they start monitoring and downloading her activity on NextDoor but there seems to be no attempt to secure older records.

The City’s response is leaning on the fact that the complainant waited to remind the City of its duty and therefore the complaint is invalid because of the time. Now, personally, I’ve made my share of PRA requests in the past. I know how busy the City Clerk and City Attorney’s office is and so, if the required deadline slips, I don’t tend to follow up right away because (1) I’m not an asshole and (2) typically nothing I’m asking for his time sensitive so it’s fine for me to wait. I feel like some other people (probably the complainant) takes the same sort of attitude of non assholish, it’s not time sensitive so I can wait sort of attitude with these busy civil servants. So, as you can imagine, I’m highly disgruntled by the argument being offered by the City Attorney’s office that the complaint isn’t timely and therefore should be rejected. No.

Another argument that the City is offering is that it would be too onerous to retain all social media records which, no, as well. Apparently it takes one click to download all your NextDoor posts and comments. Even deleted ones:

The thing that is concerning about the City’s response is it doesn’t say if they asked Trish Spencer and she refused to comply or if they didn’t bother to ask her in the first place. If they didn’t ask then that’s a failure on the part of the City Attorney’s office. If they did ask and she didn’t comply then that’s a problem that needs to be sorted out by the OGC. We know for a fact that Trish Spencer uses NextDoor pretty regularly, but she neighborhood limits her posts and her responses. So, for example, because I’m in Bayport I wouldn’t be able to see her posts on my normal feed because I’m not in an adjacent neighborhood to her and NextDoor allows people to control access to which neighborhoods can view your posts.

We know that she posted a list of all the people who were suggested to sit on or applied to sit on the police reimagining committees on NextDoor which was, by far, the most hostile place she could have published these names. Also I want to point out that, as I noted in that post, I had requested that list as well and the deadline to respond definitely was not met but I didn’t circle back to ask for it because I just figured it was not public and I didn’t want to bother the City Clerk’s office about it.

Put it this way, Donald Trump was wrist slapped over his practice of blocking people on Twitter because his role as an elected official meant that his communications, even on his “private” account, required that people be able to view his statements and interact in the comments regarding his statements. Trish Spencer is essentially doing to same by picking her social media forum of choice (NextDoor) and limiting who can view her statements that push forward the business of City government (neighborhood constraints).

Since she is an elected City Council most city government topics she lands on will be her “business” and possibility something she adjudicates on. Now this doesn’t mean she can’t use social media at all. It just means it should be open and available for everyone to see and interact with AND that she should be able to immediately produce these records upon request.

If the City does not have a policy about social media then I guess it needs one. Social media is not going away and we should not wait for courts to weigh in on what is the absolute bare minimum we should be doing to comply. If we really want to have meaningful transparency then there should be a policy to retain these public (and quasi public) social media records. Much like Donald Trump couldn’t be allowed to selectively control his audience and who interacted with him on Twitter, neither should Trish Spencer be able to selectively control her audience and who interacts with her on NextDoor.

7 Comments »

  1. Watch how OGC Commissioner Carmen Reid behaves tonight. She’s been making similar violations on Nextdoor as well (specifically, intentionally limiting her audience while engaging on city-related matters). She thought using a fake name (“Carmen Davis”) would give her an out. She ought to recuse herself.

    Comment by JRB — December 6, 2021 @ 7:22 am

    • Apple Strudel’s gonna bake herself into a pastry she can’t get out of tonight!

      Comment by Rod — December 6, 2021 @ 8:49 am

    • Jason Biggs, you’re a cry baby and an obsessive compulsive stalker. “Oh, poor me, I got blocked from seeing some peoples’ stuff on Nextdoor so I’m going to cry to city government about it!. Waaa! Waaaa!”

      Comment by Tears for Jason — December 6, 2021 @ 6:54 pm

      • Take it easy, mate.

        Cut Jason some slack. Take a breath and remember that many adults indulged you during your Angry Young Man phase, and mine too. Jason’ll grow up and move out like we all did after high school and he’ll start understand life not too long after.

        Meantime, let it go. He’s a kid.

        Comment by Take it easy — December 6, 2021 @ 9:51 pm

        • If your only responses are name-calling and making emasculating slurs, then that is a poor look and I will elect the high ground.

          It is telling that Commissioner Reid did not want to appear on video and hardly spoke a word, which is almost incriminating. The chef’s kiss of the evening was the complainant Rasheed Shabazz sharing a screenshot of Commissioner Reid’s own words – public officials’ social media communications are public records.

          Comment by JRB — December 7, 2021 @ 8:32 am

  2. That last caller last night was right, Rasheed Shabazz is an anti-semitic bigot for ridiculing another caller’s Jewish name on Twitter — while Rasheed’s own complaint was being heard by the OGC! Here to illustrate the point is Donald Trump ridiculing Barack Obama’s name. Any real court would have tossed Rasheed’s contemptuous ass right out of the room. Rasheed disgraced that honorable proceeding. Hard to believe how low some members of the community have devolved.

    Comment by Rasheed A. Bigot — December 7, 2021 @ 6:06 pm

  3. The behavior of Ms. Spencer – and, apparently, of Carmen Reid (AKA Carmen Davis) – apparently leaves a great deal to
    be desired from both ethical and legal perspectives, if the allegations against them are true.

    The fact that a sitting Council Member – and a member of the Open Government Commission – even *appear* to be trying to hide their social media activities and communications and/or withholding information from the Open Government Commission and/or the City of Alameda STINKS of ethical and legal violations.

    An honest elected or appointed official with any shed of integrity would be transparent.
    They would:

    1) Not conduct city business on a social media platform,

    2) Not try to hide her activities on social media,

    3) Volunteer every last detail immediately if a valid public information request or a complaint were lodged.

    I hope that the OGC and/or City Council take appropriate actions to end such questionable behaviors by
    public officials, be they appointed or elected.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — December 28, 2021 @ 6:58 pm


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