Guest Post: The truth about Alameda's (Republican) Slate
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.)
OUR SIX-POINT AGENDA IS SIMPLE AND STRAIGHTFORWARD:
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.