Alameda Utility Modernization Act is Really a Tax Increase that Requires a 2/3rd Vote

Alameda city staff presentation explaining that the Utility Modernization Act "expands" the things that are taxed - a tax increase.

Alameda city staff presentation explaining that the Utility Modernization Act “expands” the things that are taxed – a tax increase.

City staffers and the public safety unions – who stand to get a pay raise and pension boost from it – keep trying spin the Utility Modernization Act (Measure K1) as something other than a tax increase. But it clearly is a tax increase that demands a 2/3rd vote under state law.
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Will League of Women Voters Structure a Fair and Open Forum on School Tax Measure This Time?

Will the Alameda League of Women Voters structure a fair and open forum on Measure B1, the Alameda Unified School District parcel tax renewal measure, on the ballot this November?

Those who have been following will remember that in 2011, the League set up a forum that gave the school district 30 minutes of time to advocate for their measure, before a forum that heard from proponents and opponents of the tax.

The school district, which put the measure on the ballot, is, de facto, a proponent of the measure, so the upshot was that the League was setting up an unfair forum, one that gave proponents of the measure an additional 30 minutes to argue their case.

Alameda SOS, the proponent organization, couldn’t bear the thought of losing in the court of public opinion then, so they backed out of any forum. They didn’t want to discuss the measure on equal footing – only with an unfair advantage.

With the proponents back out again this time?

Will the League of Women Voters set up a biased forum again?

Dania Alvarez is Jim Oddie and the Inner Ring’s Kim Davis

Just as the hate group Liberty Counsel has been trying to position Kim Davis, the Kentucky city clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses to gays, as some sort of anti-gay Rosa Parks, so too has Alameda Councilmember Jim Oddie and The Inner Ring tried to position local realtor and former planning board member Dania Alvarez as some sort of victimized champion, this time of “transparency.”

Councilmember Oddie’s hypocrisy astounds. Oddie, supported by Alvarez, has submitted a city council referral outlining an item for discussion at a future meeting, wherein he questions the process by which the Mayor makes appointments to boards and commissions. Oddie, Alvarez and The Inner Ring are miffed that the latter wasn’t re-appointed to the planning board after her term concluded. Oddie couched this referral in terms of “transparency.”

Yet, if Oddie were truly transparent, he would plainly declare what all five councilmembers know, but dare not speak of aloud, and what many City Hall watchers know.

Namely, this referral item is not about transparency at all, but about the fear among certain members of the local establishment that Mayor Trish Spencer will not appoint favored parties to seats on local boards and commissions.

Specifically, Oddie is part of the circle of local Democrats that includes Oddie’s boss, Assemblyman and short-time City Councilman Rob Bonta, and defeated Mayor Marie Gilmore. Had Gilmore won the election last November, Oddie’s referral would never have arisen.

The federal analogy to Oddie’s referral is a Republican Congress questioning the process by which a Democratic President makes appointments to the Supreme Court. Likewise, Oddie apparently favors for municipal government the federal model that saw George W. Bush appoint conservatives John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.

Indeed, we saw Gilmore upon election appoint favored souls to various boards and commission. Oddie then apparently had no questions about the process. Certainly the process by which the mayor appoints persons to boards and commissions is crystal clear — it’s spelled out in Article X in the City Charter.

If Oddie doesn’t favor a Spencer nominee, as a City Councilman he can vote against or challenge that nominee. He could also, as the charter provides, attempt to persuade two other councilmembers to remove a board or commission member with a total of three votes. These provisions are clearly spelled out for anyone to read in the City Charter.

No, Oddie’s referral is not at all about “transparency,” but rather, about obfuscation. His true intention is to weaken the powers of a particular mayor he does not favor. Let’s be transparent about his intentions so we can do the real business of government and stop playing petty politics.

Outgoing Alameda Councilmember Lied About Being Elected

It’s a wonder nobody caught this before the election… Outgoing Alameda Councilmember Stewart Chen claimed to be elected to city council in 2012, when he was, in fact, not elected.

The City of Alameda even put the lie on its website, permitting his bio to say “He is currently a member of the Alameda City Council, being elected to the position in 2012.”

Lie on the City of Alameda website: "He is currently a member of the Alameda City Council, being elected to the position in 2012."

Lie on the City of Alameda website: “He is currently a member of the Alameda City Council, being elected to the position in 2012.”

But he was not elected in November 2012 – Stewart Chen came in third in a race for two seats on Alameda City Council, behind Marilyn Ashcraft and Tony Daysog who each earned sufficient votes to say they were “elected” to council.

Chen made it to city council not by an election of the voters, but by an appointment arising out of the language of the charter of the City of Alameda. In November, 2012, Rob Bonta was elected to the State Assembly, and vacated his seat on Alameda City Council. The city charter explicitly states then that the highest vote-getting councilmember in the election, who was not elected i.e. Chen, in this case, shall take the vacant seat.

Stewart Chen repeated the lie on his 2014 campaign website, saying he was “elected” to city council.

Stewart Chen outright lied about being "elected" to Alameda city council.

Stewart Chen outright lied about being “elected” to Alameda city council.

From Alameda’s charter (emphasis added):

Sec. 2-6.1. Two Councilmembers, exclusive of the Mayor, shall be elected at every general municipal election. If for any reason two vacancies do not occur prior to the election, the term of the person receiving the lowest number of votes for Councilmember in the last general municipal election shall expire.

Sec. 2-7. Every vacancy in an elective office, arising otherwise than as provided in Article XX, shall be filled as follows:

(A) Vacancies caused by the election of a Councilmember to the office of Mayor shall be filled by the candidate not elected for a contested Council seat who received the highest number of votes, provided said candidate received votes from at least 10 percent (10%) of the total number of voters.

(B) Vacancies occurring within six (6) months of any election shall be filled in the same manner provided by (A).

The very definition of the process by which Stewart Chen rose to Alameda City Council in 2012 says that he was not elected.

Stewart Chen has been lying since 2012 about being elected to Alameda City Council.

Alameda Mayor Gilmore’s “Hang ’em high!” Letter on Arson Suspects

With news breaking that Alameda police have dropped all charges against Stephen Petersen – whose friends and family have adamantly supported as innocent – for the Park Street arson fires late last month, it’s even more clear that Mayor Marie Gilmore’s “Hang ’em high!” letter to the District Attorney was nothing but a craven act of political theater at the expense of an innocent man, and the arson victims (several families) themselves.

Compounding matters, it appears that an Alameda firefighter – the local firefighters union have been big boosters of Marie Gilmore, Jim Oddie, Stewart Chen and Measure I – had mis-identified Stephen Petersen as a suspect, when it turns out he was in fact shopping at Safeway at 2:20 a.m., the time of the one of the fires he was accused of setting.

That Gilmore should have rushed to publish such a ridiculous letter – did she send a letter to the District Attorney urging prosecution of Lena Tam for allegations of misconduct in 2010? – shows that she doesn’t care about anyone but herself, and the firefighters union whose members boost the campaigns of her and her cronies. The District Attorney needs no urging to prosecute a crime like arson.

This is just one more reason to throw Marie Gilmore out of office on Tuesday.

Vote SPENCER for Mayor!

Vote No on I!

Benjamin Reyes and Susan Reyes Profit from Running Yes on I Campaign

In keeping with the theme that Measure I will enrich and benefit everyone except the families that will be burdened with another 30 years of student debt, it looks now that the family of Benjamin Reyes and Susan Reyes are profiting from managing the Yes on I campaign committee.

Newly filed campaign statements from Committee to Revitalize our School (sic) show that Susan Reyes has been paid $450 for “accounting and finance” services for the committee.

Alameda's Reyes family enriches itself by running Yes on I campaign.

Alameda’s Reyes family enriches itself by running Yes on I campaign.

This is keeping in the spirit of the Yes on I campaign, where we have seen the vast majority of campaign contributions come from companies and organizations that stand to profit from the Alameda Unified School District levying a crushing $180 million tax bond debt on Alameda families. Student debt we can’t afford.

Make sure you Vote No on I if you haven’t already completed a vote by mail ballot.