I know I should be writing about the Housing Element 2015-2023 at the Planning Board tonight, but I don’t want to. So tonight is a Public Review of the Housing Element for 2015 -2023 at the Planning Board tonight if you are interested. That’s sort of the big agenda item. The other agenda item is a presentation on some housing plans at the Del Monte building but there are no documents so it’s not clear what’s going on with that one. I can’t get that excited about anything at the Del Monte building these days because it changes all the damn time.
Anyway, what I did want to write about was the big news about Google owned Makani Power which is going to be signing a pretty sweet lease at Alameda Point for more than 110,000 square feet of additional space. That’s pretty significant because (1) it’s a lot of square footage and (2) it’s Google dammit. The initial lease will be for six years with five three-year renewal options, which could mean that Google as Makani Power will be here for the long haul. Makani Power, in case you didn’t know does research around generating electricity from wind power.
So everything sounds good right? I mean, we’re getting a sort of a Google campus right?
Just wanted to post a link to this op-ed from the Alameda Sun, since someone on my Facebook page asked if any attention would be given to piece. It was an eloquent defense of Stewart Chen which said exactly what I wanted to write (except for the part about voting for him and being interested in voting for him again) albeit with a lot more gravitas and conviction.
This part is especially quote worthy:
Something that happened 20 minutes ago may be relevant and probative. Something that happened 20 years ago may be relevant, but it is certainly not probative of anything at this time. Time, in fact, does make a difference. The very foundation of the procedure in California to expunge a conviction from one’s record is the belief that one can be rehabilitated and, therefore, should be given a second chance, free and clear of that conviction.
As JKW reported the City Council voted unanimously to approve funding and construction of the cycle track on Shoreline. It will of course be the end of the world for all residents on Shoreline when it become a Thunderdome type environment jockeying for previous parking spaces until everyone just figures something out and then enjoys the fact that there’s this awesome cycle track that has now made walking on the pathway more pleasant because bikes are now on the street safely.
Of course there was some pretty noteworthy moments from the open comments. I particularly enjoyed the one from the woman who lamented as she walked away about where all the money was coming from for this project when “there are all these starving children.” Won’t someone think about the children?
Somehow the City Council remained unmoved by the thought of starving children and went ahead with the cycle track anyway.
But the non sequitur starving children comment wasn’t the best part of the City Council. Oh no.
I guess this has become a “thing.” And by “this” I mean anyone with a half baked idea on any particular subject can have their idea agendized and heard before a random City body. Regardless if that particular idea is (1) feasible or (2) conflicts with current plans that are underway.
For example, the Historic Advisory Board has on its agenda for tomorrow night a citizen idea for life sized Monopoly playing board. Because nothing says “Alameda” more than a game about pretending to be real estate developers and building as many houses and hotels as possible hoping to bankrupt the other players if they land on your property by charging them rent. Oh and when going to jail is actually a good thing when people start building a ton of houses and hotels so that you don’t have to pay anyone rent for three turns.
Tonights City Council meeting has one major agenda item, the Shoreline bikeway project, but in Closed Session City Manager John Russo is being evaluated so if you hate the job he’s doing, I imagine you can go and speak before the City Council adjourns to closed session.
Anyway, there were lots and lots of meeting about the Shoreline bikeway project. I imagine that they went a little something like this.
Oh, safe biking is great. Wait, what’s that, you want to remove parking spots.? No way, bike safety is a horrible idea, everyone drives down Shoreline anyway! There’s a parking shortage where is everyone going to park when they want to go to walk or ride their bikes on the beach!
Something in that vicinity.
What is being built is a cycle track which is that bicycle path type thingie that you see near Lincoln Middle School if you want an Alameda example. There will be some impact to parking, naturally, and here is a map where the parking changes will be made. The good thing is that the number of spaces that you can park 24/7 has increased. That means you don’t need to rush out before 9:00 a.m. every morning to move your car before parking control tows it. But the bad news for residents that rely on on-street parking is that the overall number of free street parking will reduce. Here’s how it breaks down from the staff report:
Have I mentioned that the School Board has gotten slightly better because a lot of the School Board members have been much more assertive and have pushing back against some of the antics of other School Board members?
It really is quite refreshing.
But I have to give a special shout out to School Board member Barbara Kahn who was on fire on Tuesday night in many many good ways. The first time came during a discussion about Wood Middle School’s restructuring program. The teacher’s union rep had spoken during public comment about the need to negotiate some of the plans that were in the restructuring plan such as the bell schedule, etc. Barbara Kahn asked whether there could be loosening of the rigidity in the union contract which dictates that some of the key parts of the Wood plan would need to be negotiated prior to implementation. The sense that I got from Barbara Kahn was that everyone involved: District, union, teachers, etc. should be putting their all into making the plan work for Wood Middle School and make the program successful.
A few things on the School Board agenda tonight. First the Academy of Alameda charter renewal, staff is recommending that it be renewed. Ruby Bridges Elementary is losing its principal, Jan Goodman, the current assistant principal Cheryl Wilson is getting the nod as her successor.
As an aside for those that didn’t see the update, but the gates to the play yard at Ruby Bridges was opened on Friday evening:
I walked by a little earlier than 6:00 p.m. on Friday because I dropped off #2 son at his classroom to prepare for the Ruby Bridges talent show (replaying on channel 9 — I think that was what was referenced — and it will be uploaded to the District website). Both #1 daughter and #2 son were in the talent show this year and it was a lot of fun, if a wee on the longish side. This weekend lots of people were taking advantage of the open gates and there was plenty of use to be had to a big THANKS to the School District, Rec and Park Department, and Ruby Bridges for getting it done.
Also on the agenda is an update about Wood Middle School’s new STEAM program. It looks very promising and very exciting. For those who are interested in the numbers, there are no updated numbers as to projected enrollment so that’s not there for those keeping tabs for the whole ACLC moving discussion.
I have to say that I’m a bit surprised at the visceral reaction that some people have had to the Stewart Chen news. Compared to the very quiet reaction to the news that the City doesn’t have to pay one red cent to Ann Marie Gallant and I have to say it’s all very puzzling. I guess scandalous past actions are so much more newsworthy than frivolous lawsuits. And people had so much to say before she filed a lawsuit and during the lawsuit itself, but I guess not upon its conclusion. *shrug* While I’m not going to say that what Stewart Chen did is not a big deal or that he is some innocent lamb, on the other hand the hand wringing and the need to continue to punish him for his alleged crimes is a bit much.
I guess what I am troubled by the fact that no one seems to care that Stewart Chen is a marginal elected official, but rather that this incident is the one thing for which he should be judged for the rest of his life. It sort of flies in the face of the idea that one can have made mistakes, paid their dues to society for said mistakes, and then dedicate their lives to paying penance for those mistakes by doing good works. In no way that I’m saying that person is Stewart Chen, but on the other hand he hasn’t been arrested for anything in those 20 years — that we know about, but I’m sure that people have started digging — and it appears that he has done what the vast majority of us haven’t which is give back through volunteering in the community in which he lives. So why the need to continue to flog him over this incident? I mean, I guess you could come from the position that once a criminal always a criminal, but that seems to be a pretty cynical way to live life.
Earlier last week I wrote about the proposed judgment that was issues in the case of Ann Marie Gallant v. the City of Alameda. To recap, Ann Marie Gallant, Interim City Manager, was given noticed at the 90 day mark that her contract as the Interim City Manager would not be renewed. There was a clause in her contract that said that if notice was not given by the 90 days her contract would auto renew for another 90 days. Because that 90 days coincided with the installation of a new City Council, Ann Marie Gallant eventually sued the City of Alameda saying that they were not allowed to take that action and/or the action was politically motivated and therefore illegal as well.
The Judge in the lawsuit wrote up a proposed judgment earlier in February and had 90 days to reconsider his decision. It didn’t even take a month for him to decide that his decision would stand and on Valentine’s Day he made his decision final. As in Ann Marie Gallant essentially is in the same position that former Fire Chief David Kapler found himself in after he sued the City and lost.
File this one under, oopsie! Yesterday the East Bay Citizen working with The Alamedan on a “joint investigation” uncovered via a tip on the East Bay Citizen’s website a very embarrassing incident in the life of City Councilmember Stewart Chen. Hopping in the way way back machine they uncovered that 20 years ago Stewart Chen had pled guilty to two misdemeanors and was placed on two years probation and had to pay $50K in restitution. To nutshell, he was embroiled in some sort of insurance fraud scheme involving faked auto accidents.
Naturally Stewart Chen is very embarrassed about all this and blames the guilty plea on his lawyer, who was eventually disbarred, who urged him to take this route instead of fight his innocence out in court. Although I imagine, at the time, two years probation and $50K in restitution looked like the better deal given what sort of sentencing could have been handed down if the case went to court. Now, of course, 20 years later and an upcoming election looming in November, hindsight being 20/20 and all that it seems like a mistake to not have battled it out in court.