2010 – November endorsements

For easy reading, here are my endorsements for the fall. A wordier (aka long winded) version follows. (as always, you can unsubscribe at the bottom, or forward if you like)

Local:
Mayor: Marie Gilmore
City Council: Lena Tam and Rob Bonta
School Board: Mike McMahon and Margie Sherratt
AC Transit: Elsa Ortiz
Judge: Vicky Kolakowski
Alameda Hospital: Stewart Chen, Leah Williams, Robert Deutsch
Alameda County Measure F: YES

State Props:
19 – Cannabis Tax – Yes
20 – Redistricting – YES
21 – Parks fee – No
22 – Redevelopment/transportation fee – no
23 – suspends Climate Change legislation – NO
24 – Business taxes – absolutely no clue
25 – Budget approval = simple Majority – YES
26 – Fees equal 2/3 – NO
27 – Politicians draw election boundaries – No

State offices:
Secretary of State: Debra Bowen


Explanation of (most of) my recommendations:

This election comes down to one thing. Leadership. We need our city leaders to make the tough decision and be held accountable on a host of issues — declining school enrollment, need for economic base and funding, and sustainable (financial and environmental) development. Some say that “SunCal” is the only thing that matters. If your answer is “yes” and your choices are clear and easy. I’ll argue that voting in such a way is sending Alameda down a road we don’t want to head down. Not because I’m “pro-Suncal,” or anything silly, but because Alameda has big issues to deal with in the coming years that have absolutely nothing to do with SunCal. These would include:

  • Accountability: Last week, the Alameda District Attorney sent a letter to the City, saying that their claims about council misconduct were based on “wild and completely unsupported allegations.” And yet City Staff continues to push forward with their $100,000 political vendetta against council members they disagree with.
  • Further staff issues: Alameda’s City Manager and City Attorney are currently refusing to have job performance reviews and have recently been caught telling the council multiple untruths. Key city staff from throughout Alameda are shopping resumes because of the atmosphere at City Hall. Did you know that the $375K spent on the Measure B was the result of an incorrect reading of the election law by our City Attorney, not because SunCal forced the city to hold it?
  • Pensions/Budgeting: The City, like all public agencies, will need to work with its unions and residents to wend its way through the state and local budget fiasco built over the past years and continuing.
  • Open Government and Transparency: In the past two years, City Hall has gone back to a time when decisions are made behind closed doors and emerge, in final form, at the last minute with no public awareness or meaningful input.

Mayor: Marie Gilmore
Gilmore’s preparedness, intelligence and strong, quiet leadership style are exactly what Alameda needs right now.

She’s the only mayoral candidate who kept a steady perspective on Measure B while encouraging the City and the Developer to find a way out of the mess that we are now in. While others ran around spouting campaign rhetoric, much of which was less than accurate, Gilmore pressed for avoiding the mess. When it was clear that that wouldn’t happen, she opposed the measure.

Gilmore has been a strong voice for public accountability of staff, fiscal restraint, and transparency. Gilmore is the clear choice for Alameda voters.

Brief notes about the others:
DeHaan
will be a poor choice as mayor. Alameda doesn’t need someone who is against just about everything, but takes credit for the success of issues he opposed. Just watch a couple of council meetings and you’ll know that DeHaan is not right for Alameda’s leadership.

Matarrese, having supported him four-years ago, I feel compelled to explain my change of direction. In the last four years, Matarrese has gone from a strong, reasoned voice, to one that says what the audience of the day wants to hear, balking time and again at decisions that need to be made. As one of the three council members who allowed negotiations with SunCal to take place with zero council oversight, he holds responsibility for where Alameda Point is today. As a former supporter, Matarrese’s passive role in allowing the politically motivated attacks on fellow council members were a serious let-down. Matarrese has many sound-bites about City-led development at Alameda Point, etc. But his track record of the last four-years, being unwilling to make difficult decisions, points to a major pitfall of his key campaign platform.

Daysog: Dropped out of sight for years, came back to the public scene as the mayor’s race approached. I really like what Tony’s saying, but he has no shot this year. It would be great if he stays involved in the next four years, showing interest and leadership before running again.

City Council: Lena Tam and Rob Bonta
I’ve put off writing about this for over a week because of how difficult this race is. We have, for once, a wealth of good candidates (Not just best-of-two-evils decision-making!). Here’s the thing, you can only vote for two, and this year, if voting spreads over candidates like Ezzy-Ashcraft, Bonta, Mitchell and Tam, two candidates who shouldn’t be elected (Sweeney and Johnson) will be. So I’m not making any “honorable mention” or secondary recommendations, because I think voters should think strategically this year. (I say that as a 1990 Nader voter, though in my defense, Gore took NY state even without my vote, so no hate mail please.)

Lena Tam: Tam has taken some really (and I mean really) ugly hits this year, including a politically motivated filing by our City Attorney and Interim City Manager. The DA looked at the evidence (three attorneys looked at it over the course of weeks) and found no wrong-doing just “wild and completely unsupported allegations.” No confidential documents were shared with inappropriate parties, City staff creatively redacted emails to make it look like she had done so…..ugly. Tam’s preparedness, intelligence, and strong leadership on issues important to most Alamedans (schools, public accountability, services, etc) have shown her to be a true leader for our City. There is no one running for this seat with the experience and track record that Tam has.

Rob Bonta: Heavily involved in civic issues over the last four years, chairing the Social Services Human Relations Board and sitting on the Hospital Board at a time when it started to come out of the red. Bonta offers intelligent, rational decision-making, asks great questions and is able to formulate solid policy recommendations, which is the core of what our council members are supposed to do. Our city would be silly to reject such a great candidate.

Quick notes on the council race:
Sweeney
should be thanked for digging up the document that allowed the City to get the Alameda Beltline property at a 1920’s price, but has done nothing in the past 10-years that show her ready to sit on the council. At candidate forums, she has shown a clear lack of understanding of the major issues in Alameda, and literally manages to work “suncal” into just about every answer. As in her response about our City’s Fiscal issues: “because we rejected Measure B, there will be less traffic in the tubes, that will help Marina Village get more tenants.” (paraphrase, but not much). Our council has to be able to discuss issues on a deeper level.

Johnson. Like Matarrese, I supported Johnson four years ago, but in that case, I was clear it was about the available choices. She’s been a disaster over the last four years. Missing key meetings, late to events, and running the city as if she were the only decision maker. (In Alameda, the mayor has no more power than any other council member, except leadership). One only needs to remember that she made robo-calls to Alamedans encouraging them to “read the plan” and support SunCal, right before she came out saying she “read the plan” and didn’t support it. It’s time to thank Johnson for her service and move on.

Ezzy-Ashcraft: Ezzy-Ashcraft has spelled out exactly what the City should do around Alameda Point. It’s intelligent, commonsense and protects the City from the ridiculousness that would be a new public agency to guide development. I hope to have the chance to support her for council in two years.

Mitchell: Mitchell has made transparency and openness in government a hallmark and is appreciated for his direct responses in public forums. Late to the political game, he’ll be another one to watch in 2012.

Jensen: is the only candidate who’s pointed out that the fiasco at Alameda Point is not only a failing on SunCal’s behalf (true), but on the City Council (also true), who allowed, via a three person majority of Johnson, Matarrese and DeHaan, negotiations to be derailed and the Council to literally be kept out of them.

Gillitt: Alameda doesn’t need council people who respond to those they disagree with by yelling and screaming at them. Gillitt has shown even less understanding of the major issues in Alameda than Ms. Sweeney, given his lack of participation in Alameda civic life until about 2 months ago, it’s not surprising. Not ready for prime time.

AC Transit: Elsa Ortiz Ortiz is a strong voice for what needs to be done, she’s taking heat for trying to tackle the significant labor issues at AC Transit, but she knows that it’s important to have a solvent agency to protect service and jobs for the future. Ortiz is a no-brainer on this one.

School Board: Mike McMahon and Margie Sherratt
There are no other choices, McMahon and Sherratt are tireless advocates for strong education in Alameda. McMahon literally worked 8-hours a day on the Measure E campaign which was supported by 2/3 of Alameda voters, that alone should make him a shoe-in, but humbly, he doesn’t crow about his involvement. Sherratt, as a respected principal at Alameda High, and in her involvement in school issues for decades, will be a strong, welcome addition to the Board.

Prop 21 – Parks fee – NO
Prop 22 – Redevelopment/transportation fee – NO
Prop 25 – Budget approval = simple Majority – YES
Alameda County Measure F: YES
I’m pro-parks and pro-transit, but both of these measures lock funding into silos which further creates problems for our state budget. It’s time to give legislators the ability to legislate (Prop 25 – Yes) and stop taking pet-projects to the voters (Prop 21 and 22 – NO).

Measure F is a small vehicle license fee that goes to pay for much needed, local, transportation projects. This money is needed and voters have to approve, so vote Yes.