Election Recommendations

Election Day is just barely two weeks away. With the national election seeming to be over as far as California’s concerned (does anyone think Obama or Stark aren’t going to be elected from California?) Let’s not foget that there are a number of local races that are incredibly important and some, like Prop 8, are extremely close and need our votes. (that is if you’re voting “NO” - J). 

Bullet votingIn both the council and school board races, Alamedans get to vote for multiple candidates. Bullet voting, voting for less than the full number of choices (e.g. opting to choose for only one councilperson or two school board members), is effective if you really have no preferences to fill all the spots. It can strengthen the position of your preferred candidate by not accidentally aiding a candidate you don’t care about. However, if you do have a disctinct feeling for multiple candidates then voting for a full complement of them makes the most sense.
 
Alameda City Council (vote for two):

Marie Gilmore: Gilmore’s 5 years on the council have been marked by intelligent, thoughtful consideration of the issues. Marie has a strong understanding of the role of the city council in Alameda and is a solid voice for reasoned support of positions. Gilmore’s ability to make tough decisions in the face of difficult circumstances makes here exactly the type of leader the council needs in these trying economic times. Gilmore has the ability to zero in on the issues and facts that are most pertinent to the decisions before the council and ask all the right questions. Anyone who has watched multiple council meetings can appreciate her quiet leadership, a rare quality, on the council.

Tracy Jensen: Jensen has been elected to the School Board twice, first in 2002 and again in 2004. Jensen has worked as an advocate for the entire district, and showed the ability to work hard for positions she thought were important without losing sight of the overall goals. She voted against the version of Measure H that was placed on the ballot but also worked to support the measure once the board had adopted a final draft.

School Board:
First off, the idea that what’s happening with school finances is somehow caused by widespread mismanagement of public resources has been widely disproven. But it bears keeping in mind that A) the incumbents are not to blame and B) whoever is elected is coming into a years long situation in which they will be asked to slowly dismantle the Alameda Unified School District unless something happens at the state level. That said, I think there are three candidates who will have the experience and the history to show that they will help AUSD move through the coming turmoil.

David Forbes: Forbes has been on the board for the past four years and done a fantastic job of balancing the needs of the district as a whole (Equity) with the individual needs of each individual child (Excellence). He has arrived well prepared and knowledgeable about the issues and he deserves reelection. ‘Nuff said.

Ron Mooney: Two and a half years ago, when the second to last round of education cuts cme up, it was Mooney who rallied the troops, started a process that is continuing, for taking legal action against the State for inequality in funding! His first meeting had every major state level representative in attendance (not including the Governor). Mooney understands the difference between goals and a plan. Goals are where you want to get, plans are how you do it. I believe strongly that Mooney will help keep the focus on reaching our goals despite what promise to be non-fun, chaotic times at AUSD.

Neil Tam: As a former principal of Washington School, Tam is well aware of the many issues in the district, including having schools that perform well, but are not perceived to be doing so. Tam would bring a degree of knowledge from the inside to the board, while having a desire to hold the administration’s feet to the fire. Despite being slightly unknown, Tam has impressed the people who have had a chance to meet him and listen to him talk about the district he wants to help lead.

AC Transit Director At-Large:

Chris Peeples there are very few people in the Bay Area who understand Transit better than Peeples. He has shown himself to be very open to listening to our community, supporting many transit improvements and reductions in service cuts during the past tumltuous years. If Peeples is not re-elected, it will be an outright travesty.

City Measures:
Measure PReluctant Yes. When I first heard about Measure P, the increase in the transfer tax, which is paid at the time of buying/selling a house, my gut reaction was the same as the Alameda Journal: “We should spread the tax around as a parcel tax or sales tax.” Heck, if people want to save Police and Fire services and Parks services, they should pay for it, right? But the fact is, Alameda County already has higher than typical sale tax, so the city of Alameda going highter than our neighbors wouldn’t be a great long-term strategy. And Parcel taxes require a ridiculously high 2/3 super majority to pass, thus making the idea of “democracy” quaint. In the end, Alameda voters can vote to support raising taxes on property owners, or they can vote to cut services. This is what’s at stake on November 4.
 
Also, the fact that the “no of P” campaign is being run by a self-interested group—realtors—who haven’t really spelled out why their claims are realistic, they just keep saying things without any back up. Given that many cities have raised their transfer taxes before, you would think that there exists a mountain of data supporting the idea that increases in the transfer tax will reduce home sales. Since it hasn’t been presented, I’ll have to say I don’t think it exists. Cutting services certainly isn’t going to maintain property values.
 
Measures Q-X: Yes across the board. These are so perfunctory, that they don’t really warrant a write up. Three words: “Secret Police Fund.”
 
County Measures:
Measure WW: Yes, money for parks. Continues a tax that property owners are already paying. EB Regional Parks are a jewel, we need to keep ‘em funded.
Measure VV: Heck Yes! Anyone following state funding knows that the state has notoriously raided transit funding oer the last deceade in order to keep up the appearance that we are balancing the state budget (Ha!). if this doesn’t pass, expect increased fares and reduced service at the exact moment that ridership is starting to make gains because of gas prices…less people on the bus means more people on the roads.
 
State Propositions (Big Yeses only):
Prop 1A: Yes – without investment in long-term strategies, the state will not be able to meet it’s future transportation needs. Prop 1a does not allow the state to issue bonds until the private sector money, needed to make this project move forward, is secured. Now is the time for High Speed Rail in America.
 
Prop 2: Yes – Personally, I think Prop 2 represents a lot of what’s wrong with the initiative process, this is a vote that should be made by the legislature. That said, I think that since it’s on the ballot, not passing it will be used to keep animal cruelty off the books in the legislature for many years to come. Hold your nose and vote “Yes.”
 
Prop 11: Yes – While it won’t have a huge immediate effect on districting, it’s time to take steps to create a fairer process in who gets elected and how. This is a good first one.
 
Special shout-out for NO on Prop 8. All the rest of the candidates and issues on the ballot may not set your world on fire, but this one’s big. Government should not be in the business of blessing some people’s unions and not others.
 
Recommend against the “environmental” propositions and “crime” propositions, they don’t pass the smell test. They either will cause big problems for the state budget, or will have the opposite effect that their supporters claim. Vote them all down.
 
Superior Court Judge: Hayashi
 
EBMUD – Doug Linney – Linney increased EBMUD’s investment in renewable energy.  After the energy crisis in 2001, he sought to increase our own supply of energy to ensure we wouldn’t be affected by electricity shortages and price shocks as well as to decrease our greenhouse gas emissions.  He was instrumental in bringing solar energy to one of our water treatment plants and generating nearly all of the electricity at our wastewater treatment plant from the methane gas that is a by-product of the processes there.  Linney succesfully led the charge for EBMUD to become the first water utility in the state to join the California Climate Registry.
 
Non Alameda Races (tell your friends):
Oakland City Council At-Large: Rebecca Kaplan
El Cerrito City Council: Ann Cheng
Update: post edited to correct Spelling of Dennis Hayashi

6 comments for “Election Recommendations

  1. AD
    October 20, 2008 at 8:52 am

    Alameda Portion of the Green Party Voter guide. Offers the only commentary on the “perfunctory” measures Q-X. Full link http://www.acgreens.org/VG/GPAC-VG-1108.pdf

    City Council
    Only Vote for Doug deHaan
    Doug deHaan is well-informed, he has a public service background, and he is diligent and informed on
    issues before the Council. He’s the most independent
    member of the Council—he’s independent of developers and the local political machine, and is deeply concerned
    about Alameda, where he has lived all of his life. He has a critical stance on the theater/parking structure complex,
    on which the Council, sitting as the redevelopment board, spent over $35 million, thereby adding to our bonded
    indebtedness of nearly $300 million, which the city must
    pay back, reducing the tax base of our city. We strongly recommend deHaan, for the good of Alameda.
    For the second open seat, we do not support any of the other candidates, so only vote for Doug deHaan, which
    also increases his chances of winning re-election.
    School Board
    Janet Gibson, Niel Tam
    Ron Mooney, with reservations
    Janet Gibson is a retired special education teacher. She is an incumbent member of the Board and is accessible to both parents and teachers. She is a long-time resident
    of the community, with deep concern about our schools. She is an advocate for students and teachers, and stands for quality education in Alameda. She supports improved Board procedures to increase parent and citizen access and
    enhance open governance. We strongly recommend her for re-election.
    Niel Tam is a retired teacher and principal with a fine reputation in the community. He will hold town-hall meetings on education, which will improve parent access
    to educational policy making. He is deeply rooted in the under-represented west side community. He is committed
    to improving education in Alameda. We strongly recommend him.
    Ron Mooney is a local businessman who is involved in schools, and who volunteers time and money. We
    recommend him less strongly than Janet Gibson or Niel Tam, but we prefer him over the remaining candidates.
    Therefore we are endorsing him with reservations.

    Healthcare District
    (Uncontested: Not on the Ballot)
    There are four seats open on the HealthcarCity Council
    Only Vote for Doug deHaan
    Doug deHaan is well-informed, he has a public
    service background, and he is diligent and informed on
    issues before the Council. He’s the most independent
    member of the Council—he’s independent of developers
    and the local political machine, and is deeply concerned
    about Alameda, where he has lived all of his life. He has
    a critical stance on the theater/parking structure complex,
    on which the Council, sitting as the redevelopment board,
    spent over $35 million, thereby adding to our bonded
    indebtedness of nearly $300 million, which the city must
    pay back, reducing the tax base of our city. We strongly
    recommend deHaan, for the good of Alameda.
    For the second open seat, we do not support any of
    the other candidates, so only vote for Doug deHaan, which also increases his chances of winning re-election.
    School Board
    Janet Gibson, Niel Tam
    Ron Mooney, with reservations
    Janet Gibson is a retired special education teacher.
    She is an incumbent member of the Board and is accessible
    to both parents and teachers. She is a long-time resident
    of the community, with deep concern about our schools.
    She is an advocate for students and teachers, and stands
    for quality education in Alameda. She supports improved
    Board procedures to increase parent and citizen access and
    enhance open governance. We strongly recommend her
    for re-election.
    Niel Tam is a retired teacher and principal with a
    fine reputation in the community. He will hold town-hall
    meetings on education, which will improve parent access
    to educational policy making. He is deeply rooted in the
    under-represented west side community. He is committed
    to improving education in Alameda. We strongly recom-
    mend him.
    Ron Mooney is a local businessman who is involved
    in schools, and who volunteers time and money. We
    recommend him less strongly than Janet Gibson or Niel
    Tam, but we prefer him over the remaining candidates.
    Therefore we are endorsing him with reservations.

    Healthcare District
    (Uncontested: Not on the Ballot)
    There are four seats open on the Healthcare District
    Board (two of which are four-year seats, and two of which
    are two-year seats) and there are four candidates running
    for those four seats (two each for the two different term
    lengths). Therefore, these seats are considered to be
    “uncontested”, and this office will not appear on your
    ballot; with all four candidates now being “automatically
    elected”. However, we did want to inform you that one
    of those candidates, Dr. Robert Deutsch, is a Green Party
    member (who of course now becomes the first Green in
    Alameda County to win a seat in this November’s elec-
    tion).
    Dr. Deutsch has pledged to help make the financially
    shaky Alameda Hospital viable and seek, when necessary,
    strategic alliances, to maintain all needed hospital services
    to best serve the community of Alameda. He has been a
    primary care physician in Alameda for many years. We
    congratulate him on winning this election and hope he will
    succeed with the difficult task ahead of ensuring financial
    stability for the Hospital.
    Measure P—NO
    Raising Real Estate Transfer Tax
    The City Attorney’s analysis of Measure P states:
    “Real property located within the City of Alameda has
    been subject to the real estate transfer tax since 1967.
    This tax applies only when real property is sold and is
    paid into the City’s general fund, which is allocated by
    the City Council through the annual budget for general
    city services.”
    Unlike some other areas of the Bay Area, Alameda has
    widespread home-ownership and its citizens have worked
    to keep it a livable place for families, which means they
    even vote to raise taxes on themselves, when necessary.
    Because of this, coming to Alameda is like entering a small
    town in the Midwest—the streets are lined with sidewalks
    and shady trees, the speed limit is 25 mph on the entire
    island, the Victorians are well maintained, and the small
    downtown is full of life.
    Unfortunately, in recent years, developers have suc-
    ceeded in courting local officials and the voice of residents
    has increasingly been silenced. With this shift has come
    increasing mismanagement and debt.
    Rather then being deeply in debt for bonds for rede-
    velopment, the City of Alameda ought to have a surplus
    of income from Alameda Point—instead, $10 million
    dollars goes to the coffers of the Redevelopment Agency
    where it is spent at the sole discretion of that agency, un-
    available to the general fund. Alameda Power, although
    well-intentioned and a genuine city asset, also ought to
    produce a large surplus for the city and the schools, but
    does not, and instead, has cost the taxpayers millions.
    And of course, the proposed transfer tax (raising the
    existing tax of $5.40 to $12.00, per $1000 of real estate
    value) will primarily only make the already unaffordable
    homes of Alameda even further out of the reach for aver-
    age Bay Area residents, and is an unreliable source of
    funds, given the fluctuations in the real estate market.
    Debt and development run amok are symptoms of
    serious and costly mismanagement by city officials. Given
    the current battles going on around development and
    taxation already, rather than try to solve our problems by
    raising taxes again, maybe the City should examine what
    went wrong so far to get us where we are.
    We recommend you vote NO of Measure P.
    Measure Q—NO
    Removal of “Obsolescent”
    Charter Language
    Measure Q claims to justify “cleaning up” (eliminat-
    ing) language in the City Charter because it is “obsolete”
    and “unclear”, but like Measure S, it provides no inde-
    pendent analysis of the changes, much less even any op-
    posing arguments, meaning that this is another measure
    amounting to “just trust us,” and little more.
    Some of the changes seem straightforward. For
    example, deleting an outdated sentence that refers to a
    term of office “as of June 2 1992” that shall be shortened
    “approximately four to five months to 8:00 o clock pm
    . . . following the November 3, 1992, general municipal
    election”, would appear reasonable. But there are many
    changes, not just a few, and they are varied changes, not
    just one type.
    Importantly, the Charter is a legal document and the
    changes involve legal language, and most of us are not
    lawyers. Without an independent citizens hearing regard-
    ing the use of this justification, the potential consequences
    of removing parts of the Charter will remain largely
    unknown apart from what the City Attorney and staff tell
    us. This is a concern. We note that one of the changes,
    for example, would appear to open the door to banning
    citizen votes on redevelopment.
    Frankly, those of us in Alameda who have sat at
    City Council meetings until the early morning hours
    (with participants spread into overflow rooms to watch
    proceedings on video until they are called), only to have
    our voices repeatedly ignored in favor of developers,
    don’t have a high level of confidence in the ability of city
    officials to be impartial. A recent letter to the editor in
    the local paper suggested eliminating the City Planning
    Department since they function as only a mouthpiece for
    the developers anyway. Indeed, the pressure to develop
    the Island appears to be so strong that elected officials are
    willing to risk their careers here for the sake of developing
    properties.
    Thus, until we know what the consequences would
    be of this removal of all of the “obsolescent” language,
    we urge you to vote NO.
    Measure R—YES
    All Contracts To Be In Writing
    Running a city by verbal agreement and having unauthor-
    ized people signing contracts makes for a lot of confusion
    and disputes. Measure R is a solid step towards eliminat-
    ing these bad practices and will most likely save the city a
    lot of time and money disputing those sorts of contracts.
    Yes on Measure R.
    Measure S—NO
    Removal of Competitive Bidding
    in Emergencies
    The City Attorney’s analysis of Measure S states:
    “This measure would amend the City of Alameda City
    Charter to allow City staff to hire contractors and pur-
    chase materials immediately in emergencies, with Coun-
    cil approval after the fact. The Charter now requires a
    competitive bidding process for public projects when
    the cost is likely to be more than an amount that is set by
    state law [$75,000]. The Charter now allows City staff
    to construct a project without competitive bidding if the
    Council meets first and at least four of the five Council
    members agree there is a great necessity or emergency.
    The measure [S] would allow staff to start activities for
    the protection of the public and property, before a Council
    meeting is conducted.”
    Unfortunately, City staff are not elected officials.
    Measure S effectively allows un-elected officials to brush
    aside state limits on costs for public projects—costs that
    would then be passed on to taxpayers—before taxpayer
    representatives can even convene. Thus, the measure calls
    for a significant curtailment of basic democratic rights of
    Alameda residents.
    The argument in favor of Measure S describes a
    sample emergency as a burst water pipe that cannot wait
    for a Council meeting to be fixed. But no actual figures
    are provided to show that these changes are necessary, or
    that these changes have a history to suggest they are justi-
    fied. We agree that emergencies should be handled right
    away. But without an examination of real life examples
    of real costs from the apparent delay of the Council to
    meet—most elected bodies are capable of meeting for
    emergency sessions—this type of change can encourage
    excessive spending with little or no basis.
    What’s worse, these types of changes open the door
    to “emergency rule government,” which is as bad at the
    municipal level as it is at the Presidential level. As we all
    have had to learn, many of the most basic components of
    a democracy are eroded under the guise of “security” and
    “emergency” and that erosion must be constantly guarded
    against. The Green Party supports democratic decision-
    making over the concentration of decision-making powers
    into the hands of the few.
    We urge you to vote NO on Measure S.

    Measure T—YES
    Business Hours of City Offices
    This measure gives the City Council broader powers
    to modify city business hours. The current law only allows
    them to increase hours from the standard 9:00 AM to 5:00
    PM. It makes sense in many circumstances to be able to
    vary these guidelines and in tough economic times, there
    may be a need to shrink regular business hours. There is
    some concern that this power could be abused. For ex-
    ample, some city employees may have radical cuts in hours
    and pay, or the hours to pay a parking ticket might become
    too constricted. Overall, assuming the City Council acts
    judiciously, it makes sense to grant this authority.
    Vote Yes on Measure T.
    Measures U, V, & W—No
    Endorsement
    (Auditor Requirements,
    Treasurer Requirements, and
    Public Utilities Board)
    Because we felt that Meaures U, V, & W were less
    critical than the other City of Alameda measures, we took
    a position of “No endorsement” on them. Normally, we
    include descriptions of the effects of a measure, regardless
    of our position on it, but because we did not have enough
    volunteers to review these measures, we were not able to
    include more detailed information in this case. We encour-
    age you to consider volunteering with the Voter Guide effort
    to help bridge these gaps and keep voters as informed as
    possible – just send us an email or drop us a line.
    Measure X—NO
    Removal of Historical Advisory
    Board Members
    The Historical Advisory Board (HAB) makes decisions
    that affect what houses can be demolished and what needs
    to be preserved. These decisions can have big conse-
    quences for developers who want to build in areas that
    have historical buildings in their way. It is important that
    HAB remain free from political pressures. The members
    of the board only serve 4-year terms as it is, and they are
    already subject to removal “for termination of residency,
    malfeasance, or moral turpitude.” This measure seeks
    to remove the former quote from the existing law so that
    the City Council may remove a HAB Board Member at
    their own discretion. Developers wield a lot of power
    and influence. The current criteria is a sufficient law and
    it is best left alone to keep the HAB as independent from
    political pressure as possible.
    Vote No on Measure X.
    City of Alamedastate law [$75,000]. The Charter now allows City staff
    to construct a project without competitive bidding if the
    Council meets first and at least four of the five Council
    members agree there is a great necessity or emergency.
    The measure [S] would allow staff to start activities for
    the protection of the public and property, before a Council
    meeting is conducted.”
    Unfortunately, City staff are not elected officials.
    Measure S effectively allows un-elected officials to brush
    aside state limits on costs for public projects—costs that
    would then be passed on to taxpayers—before taxpayer
    representatives can even convene. Thus, the measure calls
    for a significant curtailment of basic democratic rights of
    Alameda residents.
    The argument in favor of Measure S describes a
    sample emergency as a burst water pipe that cannot wait
    for a Council meeting to be fixed. But no actual figures
    are provided to show that these changes are necessary, or
    that these changes have a history to suggest they are justi-
    fied. We agree that emergencies should be handled right
    away. But without an examination of real life examples
    of real costs from the apparent delay of the Council to
    meet—most elected bodies are capable of meeting for
    emergency sessions—this type of change can encourage
    excessive spending with little or no basis.
    What’s worse, these types of changes open the door
    to “emergency rule government,” which is as bad at the
    municipal level as it is at the Presidential level. As we all
    have had to learn, many of the most basic components of
    a democracy are eroded under the guise of “security” and
    “emergency” and that erosion must be constantly guarded
    against. The Green Party supports democratic decision-
    making over the concentration of decision-making powers
    into the hands of the few.
    We urge you to vote NO on Measure S.

  2. dave
    October 20, 2008 at 11:01 am

    From whom have have Jensen & Gilmore accepted contributions?

  3. John Knox White
    October 20, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Small donations from nobody that would raise any eyebrows as far as I can tell.

  4. dave
    October 20, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Can a person view Alameda donations on web?

  5. John Knox White
    October 20, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    I’ll try and post the documents tonight.

  6. October 21, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    AD, the Green party’s nominee for the President is Cynthia McKinney … ’nuff said!

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