Alamedans Votes on Election Day – At Last!


It’s been quite an election season — and it’s not over yet.

Polls close at 8 p.m. today, Tuesday, November 2.

We encourage everyone to get out and vote. Results will be begin being posted this evening at the Alameda County Registrar of Voters’ website, and some races may not be definitively decided tonight — if absentee ballots need to be counted.


A few last minute thoughts and developments: Some residents are getting calls, including this blogger, explaining that James Pruitt is not running on a two-man-campaign team with Clay Pollard; some signs around town are carrying both their names.

Also, keep in mind that every vote really counts with so many candidates running, especially for mayor. Plus, with developments and controversies, involving the Lena Tam investigation, Interim City Manager Gallant and SunCal, there could certainly be some upsets.

Finally, it seems quite possible that candidates most “tainted” by these controversies and the associated divisiveness may have trouble at the polls.

If this turns out to be true, the city could have an easier time than it’s had lately in resolving the most important issues at hand — namely tackling city and school district budget issues and finding new ways to raise revenue, including development at Alameda Point. If this prediction is wrong, the divisiveness could continue.

Either way, Island residents and their new city leaders will need to find ways to heal — and move on.


Alameda Elections: 31 Days and Counting

Tiki Tom’s may have burned down Thursday across the estuary, but it’s still real hot on the Island.

The red, gold and black political mailers that arrived this week call attention to concerns over “red flags” at City Hall, namely Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant, aka ICM.

The mailer was put out by SCC Alameda Point LLC, aka SunCal, who is suing the city over the ending of its exclusive negotiating arrangements and development at Alameda Point.

SunCal’s also set up a website about Gallant, which doesn’t offer any new information or documents to substantiate points in its mailer.

It does point to the city’s investigation of councilwoman Lena Tam as a “personal vendetta” and asks residents to call Mayor Beverly Johnson to see how she defends the ICM.

But it doesn’t go so far as to tell voters who SunCal would like us to elect on November 2 ….


A separate mailing takes a different tack at voters: It highlights photos of a cool sailboat cruising along with no captain but flying a sail that says “leadership at the helm.”

The flyer is for Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft for City Council.

But this mailing has this blogger asking: Why hasn’t Ashcraft been more visible as a candidate before now? Has there been some media/public relations leadership missing at the campaign’s helm?

(The same can be said of some other campaigns around town, for sure …)

She’s got Neil Tam of the board of education and Billl Sonneman of the Alameda Education Foundation’s support, fyi.


Alameda Politics: Time to Move Forward

The summer (and early fall) have not been kind to Alameda.

The Island has garnered attention from across the Bay Area for the issues engulfing both the Alameda City Council, city administrators and the Alameda Fire Department.

It’s certainly time to regroup, and we should start with some clear guidelines on – for instance – electronic communications, disclosure, benefits, spending on special projects (legal and otherwise). This is quite a list.

One anonymous commentator wrote on the Island of Alameda website: “Alameda is the laughing stock of the Bay Area right now. I know that is tough for some people to hear, but it’s true. In order to get some pride back, staff and any councilmembers involved in this witch hunt need to be accountable now, and not in November.”

It doesn’t seem possible at this time, given present levels of animosity, to resolve the many issues connected with the investigation of City Councilmember Lena Tam before the elections.

However, it is possible to ask serious questions of the candidates running for mayor and city council: How would you work to ensure that we don’t get caught up in lawsuits, public investigations and other matters that distract city leaders from the longer-term issues affecting Alameda?

Perhaps we should start with: What are your definitions of integrity, honesty and civility?

And there’s also the matter of how city leaders and staff members will act in a crisis and resolve controversial matters, such as negotiating with SunCal. We can’t fully anticipate candidates’ actions; they are human, after all.

But, we can certainly probe the candidates and seek to elect those that have (or, at least, appear to have) the ability to reach compromises and act decisively in ways that further Alameda’s interests, rather than their own.

Finally, for these who want to follow the candidates’ campaign documents and contributions as of June 30, 2010, there are disclosure statements available online. Review the folder that’s labeled “2010-07 Semi Annual Filings.”


Alamedans Get Political Survey Calls From ???

Oakland-based EMC Research called this Alameda resident last night, August 29, to see if I would answer a brief survey on issues and candidates. But since the kids had to go back to school early today, August 30, I declined.

The survey group called back this evening, at about 7 p.m. and asked again if I would take a “short survey.”

I was asked for my reactions to mayoral candidate statements, opinions on  the mayoral and council candidates, the fire chief, interim city manager, Alameda Point, SunCal, unions, etc.

With the long list of candidates, hot issues and questions in the survey, I really had to narrow down my preferences, define my opinions and figure out what was influencing my choices. This was certainly educational — though I wouldn’t call the process “brief.”   

(The only controversy that wasn’t included in the survey was the new restricted schedule for our bridge openings.) 

About 15 or 20 minutes later, I was told that my survey information was confidential. But the survey-taker could not (or would not) tell me who was paying for the “research.”

Does anyone in or around the Island know who is responsible for the query?  

Or, better said, would the candidate responsible for this “research” come forward when the results are ready — and share both the data and the financial resources behind it?

This hometown voter wants to know … as I’m sure others do.


Post-SunCal Alameda Point: What’s Next?

These community members and plenty of others went head-to-head with SunCal supporters at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. But in the end, with a 4-0 vote, SunCal’s right to continue to negotiating with the city over plans for Alameda Point came to an end.

The rowdy crowd of speakers for and against was mixed, yet requests by city leaders for paid speakers to identify themselves apparently fell on deaf ears.

It’s a sad comment on the state of the issues at hand if speakers need to be paid to speak on the future of Alameda Point. And it’s even sadder that they wouldn’t identify themselves as such.

Online commentators on the issues – who generally aren’t paid (although there certainly may be exceptions) — are full of ideas and topics that will have to be ironed out as we move forward with plans for the former Navy Air Station.

They note that many environmental issues regarding toxins in the area, endangered species and other concerns are at stake. There’s also a host of transporation matters that need further thought.

Granted, these are not simple issues. However, as the recent debate and vote over SunCal’s role and plans illustrate, the community has to come to some resolution over how many new residences it wants, if any, in order to move forward.

Furthermore, there should be some concensus on what activities and character a development at Alameda Point should have.

The latest divisiveness on the Island comes from residents’ desire to see the right plans from the right developer. We want a developer that shares a community-focused vision with us and that will work on plans that lead to beneficial results via  an open, straight-forward political process.

This is quite a task. Hopefully, we can started on it after some political (and legal) healing has taken place.

(Much appreciation to James Fryer for the donated photos.)


Alameda Point – The Real Issue Is?

With the expected vote tomorrow – Tuesday, July 20 — over whether or not to extend SunCal’s exclusive agreement to negotiate a development deal with the city, we can expect more fireworks from politicans, community members and outside organizations over the future of Alameda Point, and (not to mention) other issues. 

It seems that the Lena Tam vs. Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant debate is eclipsing a few items, which a kind assortment of Alameda residents have shared with me via e-mail, phone and other forms of polite conversation:

1. The vote over the major SunCal issue — namely its plan to develop Alameda Point, Measure B — failed roughly by 70% (about 15% for and 85% against).

2. The residents of Alameda clearly believe we can do better than what we’ve got; we also deserve a forum for moving forward to define what “doing better” is and how to make it happen.

3. A project that so divides a community — or at least some politicians in that community — may no longer be in the community’s (and the politicians’) best interests.

 4. The economic foundation for a massive project/development does not exist at the present time.

5.  Maybe — in the interim — the city leaders should spend some time defining what is and isn’t confidential information and what the city could be doing to expand or at least fully protect residents’  freedom of information, including access to city e-mail records for longer than 30 days. 

Then, residents tell me, we can hopefully all get back to focusing on the real “Alameda Point.”


Trick-or-Treat Comes to Alameda Point

While Mayor Beverly Johnson and the Alameda Chamber of Commerce have issued written statements explaining their lack of support for SunCal’s Alameda Point Revitalization Initiative, one resident is having a bit more fun with his criticism of the plans.

Alameda resident David Howard, a member of Action Alameda,  is handing out “scary” SunCal-themed tricks and treats.

Howard calls the plans a “Frankenstein initiative,” and has printed candies with the names of “some of SunCal’s more than two-dozen bankrupt California projects,” he says.

According to Howard, the trick bags represent SunCal’s “empty promises for traffic mitigation, a sports complex and a levee to protect their development against projected sea-level rise at the site.”

Howard plans to be at the Webster Street Farmer’s Market at noon this Saturday to pass out some of the treats.

It will be interesting to see if SunCal plans a counter “trick-or-treat” demonstration – and how the various parties are costumed for Halloween.


Meeting tonight about SunCal development at Alameda Point

As you may or may not be aware—we are all busy with so many things, no?—tonight Alameda’s City Council (sitting as the Alameda Redevelopment and Reuse Authority) will hear from SunCal, the company that is working on a plan for developing Alameda Point. Michele Ellson over at The Island has a clear and helpful presentation of the type of development, plans for funding the development, and so on. You can read (or skim) the SunCal plan here and there is some discussion of the ads put on by a group advocating for a different solution to development at the point, here and here. (You can see the ad put out by the new David Howard-spearheaded group, “Save Our City! Alameda,” here.)


Alameda Point Development, what now?

If you’re like me, you have a hard time getting your mind around development at the the former Naval weapons station. How many years has it been since the Navy left? And how is it that price tag for the property went from $1 to over a $100 million dollars? Confusing. Michele Ellson, writing in today’s Alameda Journal, has a good article about the development plan just submitted to the city by SunCal Companies, the current chosen developer. For more info on the plan, Lauren Do has this post, and this one, too. For all Lauren’s Point-related posts, go here.