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.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

California Democratic Convention Next Weekend

I'm looking forward to next weekend's California Democratic Convention, where ordinary (yet politicall active) citizens gather and hear from our Democratic leaders (and, actually hob-nob with them as well). As I was recently re-elected as delegate, this will be my third time at the convention.

Some people I'm sure just go there to party, but I, like a lot of progressive Californians, hope to accomplish a bit and learn a lot. The annual caucus meetings happen at the convention; I'm a member of the progressive caucus and, I suppose, the Computers & Internet Caucus although I don't know if I will continue that. On odd-numbered years there is a big push for resolutions (I have written or contributed to a handful) that are a way for the grassroots to shape the direction of the party. There will be training sessions, speeches of course (I expect to hear from most of the major presidential candidates first-hand), schmoozing, and of course parties. I'll write up a report while I'm there or shortly thereafter.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Do we need a "Super-Sized" gas station at Towne Centre?

Running into some neighbors last night at La Piñata, I learned that the gas station that is under review for going into Alameda Towne Centre (you know, the Centre at the south shore of Alameda) is going to be a....

Super-Sized Gas Station!

Okay, but is this really happening? The city of Alameda has just set up this Climate Protection Task Force, which has determined that half of all our carbon emmisions are from automobile travel. One would think that it would be in our city's best interest to discourage driving and encourage alamedans to use other methods to travel whenever possible.

So how is allowing a Super-Sized Gas Station going to accomplish this?

Remember "Field of Dreams" and the saying "If you build it, they will come"? This is a perfect analogy. Alameda is surviving, perhaps even doing better, now that that gas station on the corner of Park and Otis is gone. Sure, maybe a few people are inconvenienced a bit. I can understand why people want to replace it (more or less). But why even consider putting in a Super-Sized one?

I'm guessing that the situation is that Harsch (the developers) are asking for approval for this project because, well, everybody always asks for something big in negotiations. The idea is that then the other side negotiates them down to something smaller. But I'm afraid that the City of Alameda, dollar signs in the eyes thinking about tax revenue, is all-too-easily going to say "YES" to whatever Harsch asks for.

Let's not just roll over and let Harsch get what they ask for. I don't expect that the request to put in a gas station will be denied, but it certainly sounds reasonable to deny the request for Super-Size.

The Planning Board meets April 23 to talk about this issue. I hope that there will be some voices to balance the desire for sales tax revenue with the need to discourage automobile travel and greenhouse gas emmissions.

Out of Iraq Resolution: City Council Needs our Support

I've heard rumors that the right-wingers in Alameda are in force, innundating the City Council with messasges opposing the proposed resolution that Frank Matarrese is trying to introduce again.

Dear reader of this blog, please call the Mayor/City Council's office and tell them why we should support this resolution.

The phone number to call is: (510) 747-4701

Or FAX the mayor at (510) 747-4704 and the members of the City Council at (510) 747-4805.

Some points to consider:

  • Cities all over the country have been adopting similar resolutions. Alameda would not be doing anything unusual in this.

  • Resolutions of a statement about national policy have been passed by cities for years and years. This is nothing new.

  • The federal government needs to know what its states, counties, cities, and citizens are thinking. It is thus appropriate for a city to pass a resolution about a national policy.

  • Even if the above arguments are not heeded, this is indeed a local issue! Our national guard is needed at home, not abroad doing the job of the military.

  • Regardless of whether one opposes the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, we need our National Guard here to protect us here in Alameda.

  • If we were to be hit with a major Earthquake (which could happen at any time), another natural disaster, or an attack by terrorists (domestic or foreign) here in the Bay Area, and the National Guard were still deployed abroad, we would be stuck without that infrastructure.

  • Demanding an end to the occupation and bringing home our troops is a matter of Self-interest for the City of Alameda. To leave that decision to the Federal Government while we stand idly by is an abdication of our responsibility.

So ... Let's contact our City Council and show our support.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel


From the outside, the Alameda facility looks like any other industrial building. Behind a chain link razor wire fence sits a windowless white hangar some three stories tall, surrounded by a strip of green lawn. If you could see underground, however, you’d see that the building sits at the center of a converging nexus of burrito pipes.....

(OK, nothing political about this post, but I found it quite funny...)