A Progressive Alamedan

Various writings from a resident of Alameda regarding the political scene. The local perspective of local, state and national politics and a few other odds and ends of local concern. May not be particularly interesting to people outside of the Alameda area.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Pete Stark Town Hall, coming Sept. 30

Pete Stark will hold a town hall meeting at City Hall in Alameda from noon to 1 PM on Saturday, September 30.

We're so lucky to have a representative who actually will meet with his constituents, unlike, say, Richard Pombo in the district to the East.

Guest Post: The Governor's Race

[Jim Oddie of the Alameda Democratic Club sent this out a couple of days ago; I thought it was worth a read.]

This morning I read about a poll showing Arnold with a 20 point lead over Angelides in the Governor's race. This is mostly because Democrats are less than enthusiastic about supporting Phil. I have been told by more than one club member that they were not going to vote for Phil. As someone who supported Steve Westly in the primary, I can understand this sentiment, however, it's time to come together as Democrats and support our party's nominee.

Maybe some of you don't think Arnold is so bad because he come down on the Democratic side of many issues in the last few months.

But you have to ask yourself, what Arnold are we going to get for the next four years?

The Arnold who takes Democratic stands five months before an election or the Arnold who attacked firefighters, nurses, and teachers, just one short year ago?

The Arnold who was elected to "take on the special interests" or the Arnold who raises special interest money than Gray Davis could have ever dreamed doing?

The Arnold who is carefully scripted by his handlers or the Arnold who lets his true racist and sexist attitudes known in private?

The Arnold who tries to distance himself from Bush or the Arnold who went to the critical state of Ohio the week before the 2004 election and encouraged people to stand with him behind Bush? One could make the argument that without Arnold's help in Ohio, Bush would have lost the state to Kerry and we wouldn't be in this awful mess.

Finally, let's remember the governor, like the President, gets to appoint judges. Do we want radical right wing judges here in Alameda County or elsewhere? Or do we want decent, progressive judges like David Krashna and Delbert Gee? You may not like Phil, but with Arnold, we get NOTHING as far as Democrats and progessives being appointed to judicial posts, not to mention the executive posts that make and enforce state policy.

Just like a vote for Nader in 2000 or 2004 was basically a vote for Bush, a vote for anyone else but Angelides, or sitting this election out, is simply a vote for Arnold.

Can we really afford four more years of Arnold?

I say NO and I am voting for Angelides.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Robo-Call Season Starts

I used to find grim amusement in noticing how early the first store in town started putting up decorations. I still remember walking by a stationery store that had put up yuletide window dressing near the last days of Summer....

Today, I decided to note that the robo-calls have started. Yes, I got a call from Barbara Boxer urging me to vote for Phil Angelides. Don't worry, I will ... but when will the politicians notice that when scientifically tested, robo-calls have zero efficacy in election results? Maybe Phil's campaign was banking on this being so early that people would notice. I suppose it did, at least for me....

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

East Bay For Democracy endorses Local Candidates, State Props

I am a member of East Bay For Democracy, an organization founded by a number of political activists who had been energized by Howard Dean's campaign; it is affiliated with Democracy for America and is now chartered officially as a Democratic Club.

Last Night, EB4D held its endorsement meeting, and its membership endorsed many local (Alameda, Oakland, Berkeley)candidates, as well as local and state ballot issues.

The Alameda candidates endorsed were Lena Tam for Alameda City Council and Frank Matarrese for Alameda City Council.

Statewide propositions were also endorsed; I'll list them here, linked to their advocacy website, with a brief personal commentary:

1A(no position)These bond measures, which are being grouped by its backers as a package deal, elicited much debate in the meeting, and though there were some strong opinions for or against some, I personally tink that further study needs to be given here.
1C(no position)
1E(no position)
83NOThis is the "sex offenders" proposition that would further restrict released sex offenders. Many felt that it was too draconian, and was impractical because it would require them to relocate to rural areas. (This position deviates from the California Democratic Party's "yes" endorsement)
84YESWater Quality Bonds
85NOThis is a "rerun" of last year's 73 that was defeated by the Campaign for Teen Safety. Prop 73, plus 12 months, equals 85.
86YESCigarette tax. There was some concern that the per-pack tax would be a burden on the poor, like a regressive tax, but many felt that the reduction in smoking and the prevention and treatment programs it would fund would more than compensate. Highly opposed by the tobacco companies, of course
87YESOil Severance tax to provide a fund to finance alternative energy projects. Highly opposed by Big Oil, of course.
88NO $50 parcel tax for education funding is a regressive tax: Think how Larry Ellison will have to pay just as much as you or me.
89YESPublic Financing of Elections. A no-brainer for anybody who wants to cut down big business's influence on politicians. (Note: The CA dem party did not take a stance on this since some organizations don't want to release their position of power even if they are democratic strongholds.)
90NOIt looks like an eminent domain protection measure, but it would tie local governments' hands and cost taxpayers big.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Upcoming events of note

The Alameda Democratic Club is holding its monthly meeting tomorrow, September 13, from 7-10 PM with the first of two election forums, in which local candidates will be making presentations; the club will vote on endorsements. At Alameda Hospital.

MoveOn.org is putting on "Call for Change" phone parties on September 16 to help tip the balance in congress. There's an event listed in Alameda!

Assemblywoman Wilma Chan is organizing "Spruce Up for Kids 2006" in the area. In Alameda, it will be on September 17, from 9 to 3 at Woodstock Pre-School. RSVP or get more information by contacting Garrett at Wilma Chan's office, 510-286-1670 x23.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Guest Post: The truth about Alameda's (Republican) Slate

[I'm hoping to expand the authorship of this weblog. Here's a baby step, where I am forwarding an article written by John Knox White about the City Council "Slate" for the upcoming election.]

Pat Bail, the self-proclaimed organizer behind this machine, is the former President of Alameda Republican Women, Federated (her website used to mention it, but somehow doesn’t seem to anymore). I don’t know much directly about Eugenie Thompson, but I would be wary of anyone joining a slate consisting of a councilmember who uses the term "tar baby and a “community activist” who talks about Chinese-Americans in Oakland double parking to buy their live turtles or whatever they eat. Alameda is a multi-cultural town, and such major cultural insensitivity would seem to scream “inappropriate for city council.”

And then there’s the “agenda":
(As an aside, the slate's “agenda” is really only four points, not six. “Working as a team” and “Not being career politicians” are not an agenda--they are assertions with no plan for action.)

1. Open government: There will be no more behind-the-scenes decisions or developer-driven debates. No more after-the-fact announcements of project plans. Residents will be front-and-center in every debate.

There are many well-noticed public processes. Ms. Thompson’s email exemplifies this. She talks about a community-created transportation plan. The city has been in the midst of creating exactly this plan, headed by the Transportation Commission (regular citizens) and noticed on the front page of local papers, websites, as well as email notices that are available to the entire community. There have been dozens of meetings held over the past two years, with many more to come. The fact that Candidate Thompson is unaware of this should concern anyone considering voting for her since this appears to be a key issue.

2. Highest and best use of taxpayers’ money: The current majority council has approved exorbitantly high public works and redevelopment projects. A prime example is the escalating cost of the Cineplex Project which already has grown to more than $30 million before construction of the project has even begun.

Beyond the theater project, which has a high price tag, what projects are being referred to here? Due to declining sales-tax receipts, the city is running in the red (with the exception of 2006 due to a one-time financial bump). The current council has spent months cutting spending over the past four years in order to successful balance the budget. The majority of city general fund money goes to Police and Fire, is the slate suggesting that we cut police services? Library staffing? Where’s the implied pork and why is it not identified?

This is a classic example of screaming to fix a problem that doesn’t exist! (Like Gov. Schwarzenegger and George Bush, both of whom were going to cut waste and ended up increasing because there was so little to cut). With the exception of the Cineplex project (which I will not argue for or against), what projects have been so amazingly out of whack? The lack of multiple examples smacks of creating a straw-man argument.

3. Community-driven development: We will return the citizens to the helm of city government.
Decisions will be initiated in the community, not with developers. We will protect the sanctity of neighborhoods; upgrade the transit system; and provide new recreational opportunities, affordable housing and safe roadways for Alameda families.

Community-led planning processes for Alameda Point drew hundreds of citizens, and the resulting plan was approved by the city council. Candidate Bail stood up to renounce the majority public comment captured at the meeting. Before becoming a council candidate, Ms. Bail railed against the Webster Street Renaissance project as wasteful--that was also a citizen-led project. She wrote letters to the editor naming Alameda’s Gold Coast as the “Forgotten Neighborhood” as if the most well-to-do area in town was somehow underfunded because her neighborhood was not first in line to underground utilities. The only community Ms. Bail speaks to is herself and small cadre of friends. Her record through the years is very clear on this.

Additionally. the slate talks a lot about Measure A, despite the fact that the council can do nothing about it, and despite the fact that the current council has done nothing but uphold it (even outright ignoring a request for the League of Women Voters to consider creating a ballot measure for the citizens to guide development at Alameda Point).

4. Realistic traffic plan: Let’s look at what is truly feasible to build in Alameda. Let’s not waste time and money debating unrealistic ideas like gondolas that people won’t use, tunnels that will clog and stall traffic, and freeway overpasses at our neighborhood intersections. We can work within our existing infrastructure to provide reasonable solutions to accommodate planned growth.

This is already the adopted city plan for the West End. That current Councilmember DeHaan is unaware of this should be a concern to anyone considering voting for him. The Alameda Point Preliminary Development Plan, which was passed by the Council (in the guise of the Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Authority), including Councilmember DeHaan, was adopted in 2005. Again, for supposedly active community members, this agenda items seems to speak to a glaring lack of awareness of what they appear to consider a key issue.

5. We’re not career politicians: The incumbents are all career politicians. In contrast, we are three local residents who have mutually agreed that we are interested only in what’s best for the future of Alameda. We will not use our Council seats as a springboard to a higher public office.

It’s interesting that the two council people that they are trying to oust both hold full-time jobs, thereby also being “not career politicians.” And DeHaan hasn’t even finished his first council term before he’s using it as a stepping stone to higher office!

Besides, what does this have to do with anything? We should hold a person’s willingness to run for public office against them if they might someday run for a county or state position? At the end of the day, this isn’t an agenda for the future--it says absolutely nothing about what this group will do.

6. We’re a working team: We know each other well and have worked together successfully. As a slate of three candidates with optimistic attitudes, we can unite the community by providing responsible leadership that is responsive to the needs of all citizens.

The members of this group have shown zero leadership within the city over the past years, Pat Bail is involved in some worthy non-political causes, but has made a career of being against things without ever having a plan to do anything. She’s done nothing to get involved in city meetings to guide development, the budget, traffic, etc. What makes anyone think that all of a sudden she has ideas now?

Eugenie Thompson has unfortunately been absent from public traffic/transportation discussions for years, but now she is going to show leadership?

Lastly, Doug DeHaan has shown anything but leadership at the Council. He voted for the development agreement on the theater, which laid out all the specifics about the project, and he continued to fund the project and even increased funding for it after he became against the project, showing a compete lack of understanding of how the process works. Doug could have voted against Eminent Domain and the theater issue would have stopped immediately, but he didn't--he voted to move forward with the project. Whether or not one is happy with his stated position of being against the theater project, he's confused and his leadership skills are non-existent.

You might have guessed by now that we won't be lending our support to the DeHaan/Bail/Thompson slate in November. Frank Mataresse is smart and does his homework, but if you don't agree with positions he's taken in the past, there are other candidates worth considering.

Jerry McNerney in Alameda: Quite a Success!

Today was our house party to benefit Jerry McNerney, and it was by all accounts a great success!

We had probably about 50 people in our back yard, connected to us from a variety of ways: old friends from out of town, neighbors to whom I had delivered and mailed invitations, people from nearby who had been sent invitations from the McNerney campaign directly, regulars from local groups like the Alameda Democratic Club, Alameda Peace Network, and Alamedans for Climate Protection, and, surprisingly, three of the candidates for Alameda City Council: Frank Matarrese (incumbent), Lena Tam, and Michael Rich. I guess Progressives attract Progressives! Everybody seemed to have a good time chatting, eating and drinking, and of course there was the reason we were there....

Jerry McNerney minglingJerry McNerneylistening to Jerry McNerney's speech

Jerry arrived a bit earlier than I had expected, so he had plenty of time to meet and mingle. Some time after 4, I pulled out the cobbled-together PA (a friend's old microphone and another's electric guitar amp), welcomed everybody to the party, acknowledged the local officeholders and candidates, and then introduced Jerry. Jerry thrilled the gathered crowd with stories about Pombo, about the corruption in Washington, and what he'll do. He then answered a variety of questions about withdrawal, impeachment, Proposition 87, and so forth.

Jerry was able to stay and meet just about everybody there, staying almost to the official end time of the party.

The small group of people that remain at the end of a party is one of the nicest parts; it's like when a campfire has settled down to the warm embers. Our conversation drifted toward local politics, and Lauren Do's blog kept coming up in the conversation. It's turned into an amazing resource, where many points of view are all given an airing. I hope that more and more people discover her blog and subscribe to it (or visit it frequently); each new entry and the comments that people post are always a joy to read. Keep it up Lauren, you're getting a fan club!

I'm really glad we had this event. This was a great way that we can have some effect on the balance of power in Congress. It was clear that it was a success in terms of people being engaged to help out McNerney's campaign, both from a volunteer and financial point of view. I don't have any actual numbers but I was told that we definitely raised enough money for Jerry's campaign to make his trip to Alameda worthwhile. (And if you're reading this and you didn't make it, it's not to contribute online!