Home » Island News

UPDATED Mayor drops support for SunCal initiative

Submitted by on 1, October 14, 2009 – 6:00 am23 Comments

mayor_johnsonUpdated 5:11 p.m. Wednesday, October 14

Mayor Beverly Johnson, whose visage appeared on mailers backing developer SunCal’s plan for Alameda Point and whose recorded voice was heard on thousands of local answering machines saying the same, is now saying she does not support the company’s ballot initiative.

In a press release issued by the city after closing time Tuesday, Johnson was quoted as saying that after reading a city staff-generated report detailing its potential impacts, she has come to feel the initiative, which contains SunCal’s plan and a development agreement, “will have devastating financial impacts on the City.” Still, she said she supports SunCal’s plan for the former Naval Air Station.

Johnson said she has been concerned about the initiative for months and that she chose to speak out now because SunCal submitted its initiative for the ballot. She said that she had expressed her concerns about the initiative to a Chamber committee in late August or early September, as that group was piecing together its position.

“Although I am a strong supporter of development at Alameda Point, this initiative overreaches, usurping the City’s ability to negotiate a fair development deal that financially protects the City. After studying the election report, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is completely one-sided,” Johnson is quoted as saying in the release.

The council has not yet taken an official position on the initiative. The Registrar of Voters told the city on Monday that it had certified SunCal’s initiative petition.

The report Johnson is citing was released in May.

City staff generated two reports analyzing the initiative’s potential impacts. The first one, in May, questioned whether the $200 million it would have the developer spend on a host of public improvement projects including a regional sports complex, Bay Trail extension, parks, transit improvements and a library will be enough to cover the tab. (The second one, issued in September, laid out traffic impacts.)

The report’s authors also asked whether the taxes to be collected on the development would be enough to cover an $4.8 million annual hit to the city’s general fund, and it pointed out that the initiative would give the developer breaks on some fees it would normally pay.

Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant had been negotiating with SunCal since June in an effort to come up with something that resolves the city’s concerns about the anticipated financial impacts of the initiative.

In recent weeks, both the Alameda Chamber and Commerce and Renewed Hope, which sued to require anyone who develops housing at the Point to make a quarter of it affordable to lower-income residents, have said that while they support the development plan, they oppose the initiative.

Johnson said she and other supporters of the plan thought SunCal’s initiative would focus on that, and the need to get voter approval of the development-limiting Measure A needed to move it forward. Instead, it included a development agreement typically negotiated between a developer and the city.

“I like the way they’ve worked with the community, and they’ve been very honest and upfront about what can work and what can’t work out there,” Johnson told The Island. “The biggest distinction for me is the plan and the project. This is all about the business deal.”

She said she’s hopeful SunCal will be willing to negotiate a deal that is more favorable to the city.

City Councilmember Lena Tam said she found Johnson’s change of position curious since the council has not discussed its position yet. (Tam was quoted in a SunCal press release as saying she supports the plan and is glad it is going before the voters, but she said she has not taken a position in favor of it.) But she, too, said she’s hopeful that ongoing negotiations with the developer will produce progress on the issues Johnson identified.

“I believe the issues that have been problematic can be resolved, and that all parties can negotiate in good faith towards resolution, as this may be the last, best hope for redevelopment of Alameda Point,” Tam said.

Vice Mayor Doug deHaan, an opponent of both the initiative and the plan, said he’s glad Johnson now sees things his way. DeHaan said he wants to see a plan that adapts existing buildings at the Point for reuse.

“I’m happy to see her join the ranks,” deHaan said.”I think the initiative is just a disaster.”

Johnson said she hadn’t supported SunCal’s bid for the Point project in the first place, while deHaan had.

“It’s actually Doug who’s coming around to my position,” she said.

SunCal’s Pat Keliher sent a letter to Johnson today saying he was confused by her press release. He said the company’s reps have been working with city staff to try to resolve concerns over the measure’s impacts.

“While we understand that there has been concern raised in the election report regarding the fiscal protections and provisions of the initiative, we believe that these issues could and would be resolved prior to the vote on the initiative,” Keliher wrote. “To that end, we have been working in good faith over the past several months in weekly meetings with the City Manager and staff to address the election report concerns and incorporate appropriate protections through legally binding agreements.”

SunCal submitted the signatures for its ballot initiative on September 24, and the council will set an election date in November. Johnson said she expects the initiative to be on the ballot in March or April 2010.

The release says the city is still working with SunCal in an effort to reach an agreement on how to pay for public improvements at Alameda Point. The city’s exclusive negotiating agreement with the developer is in effect through July 2010.

Johnson wants city staff to give a presentation for the public before the council votes to put the initiative on the ballot.

“I think I have a responsibility to make the public understand the downside with the economics, and the risk to the city,” Johnson said. “I’ll have to do what I need to do to protect the public.”


  • Detailer says:

    My bet: It's just a ploy until after the election. Nothing worse for a ballot measure than having public officials with low polling numbers publicly supporting it.

  • Jayne Smythe says:

    Well, isn't that just the biggest flipflop ever?

  • Jayne Smythe says:

    Well, now, all those update additions are crazy! How can the Mayor, the very one who gave us the robo-calls, and who has been stating all along that she wanted the SunCal plan now backtrack and say that she has been concerned? If that is true, she hasn't been trumpeting it for folks to hear or read anywhere, UNTIL NOW.

    And as for shifting some kind of blame to deHaan, all I can say is WOW! That takes BALLS!

    But by far the craziest thing I read here is that Lena Tam both SUPPORTS THE PLAN and HAS NOT TAKEN A POSITION IN FAVOR OF IT. How that is logically or even practically possible, I cannot even begin to imagine. Like trying to ride two horses at the same time.

  • David Howard says:

    Lena Tam was quoted back on September 24th in a press release by SunCal, when they turned their signatures in, as saying:

    “This is a very exciting day for all Alameda because it means that for the first time the City’s voters will get the chance to decide

    the fate of Alameda Point,” said Councilmember Lena Tam. “As people learn more about this plan to clean up and convert the

    dilapidated former Navy base into a productive new neighborhood, I am sure they will join me in supporting it.”

    After we challenged her on that comment, SunCal subsequently removed her quote from the press release. You can see the exchange with Lena at the link under my name.

    Remember that it was Lena Tam, at the May 8 2007 Special ARRA meeting that motioned to name SunCal as the master developer. This can be found in the meeting minutes on the City’s website, included below.

    At that time, SunCal presented themselves as bringing a lot of their own, and Lehman’s private money to the deal, compared to Catellus, which is part of Pro-Logis and has to answer to Wall Street every quarter.

    Since then, the Mayor – after having let SunCal use her voice on robocalls and her face and name on mailers – and Doug deHaan have come out and voiced opposition to SunCal’s plan – why does Lena Tam still support it?

    May 8, 2007 Special ARRA Meeting Minutes

    The following motions were made:

    Member Matarrese motioned to set aside the Partnership Agreement approach and select just one Master Developer. Motion

    was seconded by Member deHaan and passed by the following voice vote: Ayes 4, Noes —1 (Gilmore).

    Member Matarrese motioned to appoint Catellus as the Master Developer. Motion was seconded by Chair Johnson and failed

    by the following voice vote: Ayes 2 (Matarrese, Johnson), Noes 3 (Tam, deHaan, Gilmore).

    Member Tam motioned to select SunCal as the Master Developer. Motion was seconded by Member deHaan and passed by

    the following voice vote: Ayes 3 (Tam, deHaan, Gilmore), Noes 2 (Johnson, Matarrese).

  • William Smith says:


    At least two organizations, Renewed Hope and the Chamber of Commerce, have announced in press releases that they generally support the Plan, but oppose the Initiative. The Initiative merely enables the plan to be built without committing the builder to do anything in particular – and committing the City to a long-term financial loss while also removing controls that cities normally exert on developers and on residents wishing to modify their properties.

    The builder could build the plan, or the developer could build something much different to respond to market conditions. The Chamber of Commerece stated that they supported the Plan, but oppose the Initiative because the Initiative also includes a one-sided development agreement that shifts too much risk from the developer to the City.

    Perhaps Councilmember Tam’s position is similar to that of the Chamber, except she has said that rather than opposing the initiative at this time, she is still searching for a way to “fix it.” Perhaps she will succeed in fixing it with the DDA which will be negotiated between the City and the developer before the Navy transfers the land to the City and the City transfers it to the developer. The Renewed Hope report, though, leaves little hope that the Initiative is “fixable.”


  • David Hart says:

    Mr. Spangler:

    Your confidence in Suncal's willingness to do amend the terms is both unwarranted & naive. Suncal is a business. Businesses enter into contracts & perform on them for payment. That is a standard in business and indeed in life. Why would you expect Suncal to go over & above the stated terms of a contract? When you sign to purchase a car without frills do you expect a leather interior thrown in because the salesman is a nice guy? Suncal has no obligation to do more than the initiative binds them to. Blind fealty is not a business strategy.

  • David Howard says:

    Michele – as Dennis Green noted in his op-ed piece the other day – supporting the plan but not the initiative is a distinction without a difference.

    There is no plan without the initiative. SunCal has said that the plan is the only way they can make the deal pencil, and the initiative incorporates the plan and the initiative is required to enable their plan to work. To try to separate the plan from the initiative is political hair splitting.

    I agree re: Gilmore – so far as I know she has not voiced an opinion on the initiative, and she expressly declined comment on the joint Action Alameda News/Alameda Daily News sentiment survey.

    But I'm not even sure Johnson has clearly stated that she "supports the plan" – in the press release, she said that SunCal's initiative has some great ideas for Alameda Point, and she has said that she supports redevelopment of the base, but I'm straining to find where she has said that she "supports the plan."

  • Jon Spangler says:

    I support SunCal’s proposal to develop Alameda Point because Peter Calthorpe has designed a comprehensive plan to make the former base a sustainable, green, mixed-use, economically diverse, and valuable community that will respect its historic roots and add great value to Alameda.

    I know many people who, like me, support Peter Calthorpe’s visionary design. But some of them, like Mayor Johnson, seem to have more difficulty with the “business deal” side of the initiative than I do. (SunCal wrote its own initiative after the City Council declined to put its own charter amendment initiative on the ballot to amend Sec. 26/”Measure A.”). I am confident that SunCal will offer satisfactory solutions to the legitimate reservations raised by some opponents of the SunCal initiative. And I hope that SunCal’s plans and its suggested solutions will be fairly considered by all.

    To succeed in this complicated project, SunCal also needs consistent and good faith cooperative efforts from the City and from the US Navy to redevelop Alameda Point. It appears to me, as someone observing the progress (or lack thereof) of these negotiations for many months, that there have been delays and/or ambivalence on the part of both the Navy and the City, for reasons I about which can only guess.

    As a member of the Alamedans for Alameda Point Revitalization, I have always been committed to ensuring that this development is good for the City of Alameda and my community. I have urged SunCal to offer appropriate solutions to some of the legitimate concerns expressed by the developer’s critics, and they are responding to them as quickly as the current negotiating framework has allowed.

    Some aspects of the current initiative that seem most troubling will, on balance, seem much less problematic when they are considered in the context of the entire redevelopment process. One aspect, the fixed $200 million “public benefits” cap, can apparently be adjusted through simple amendments within the Disposition and Development Agreement. (This is what I understand from reliable sources. I am not a land use or development attorney, but I have been involved in many public meetings and workshops on major developments since moving here 12 years ago. Redevelopment processes–especially in cases like Alameda Point–are complex, and do not lend themselves to simple, literalist, or first-glance analysis.)

    We are many months away from the election at which we will all be able to decide on Alameda Point’s future and the future of the City of Alameda. Let’s make those decisions carefully and with full consideration of all the facts once they have been presented.

    • Good morning folks,

      Just to clarify a few things:

      @David: Mayor Johnson said she doesn’t have an issue with SunCal’s plan, that her opposition is centered on their ballot initiative. Lena Tam says she supports the plan and has not taken a stance on the initiative, Doug deHaan opposes both the plan and the initiative, Frank Matarrese likes the plan but has not taken a stance on the initiative, and I’m not aware of Marie Gilmore taking a position on either.

      @Jon: You mentioned things like the public benefits cap being “fixed” in the DDA. As far as I understand it from my conversations with city staff for a story to come on the DA/DDA issue, that is not accurate. They say that the Development Agreement on the ballot measure contains items that are typically negotiated in a Disposition and Development Agreement, and that the initiative, if passed, sets these in stone, meaning they in fact cannot be negotiated later. As I said, full story on this bit at a later date.

  • DLM says:

    If people signed the initiative petition in a certain form, then I don't see how it's possible to turn around and substantially revise it. It's possible, for all I know, but it seems very questionable. The petition has to be circulated with the City Attorney's title on every page, to confirm that it is the exact version that was summarized by the City Attorney and okayed for distribution and signature. So I think it's an extreme stretch and in some cases, misleading to say that the initiative can somehow be "fixed" after the election, since petition signers have technically signed on this particular version of the initiative — and for that matter, the Registrar has now okayed this particular version of the Initiative to go on the ballot.

    Voting "Yes" on the Initiative could be compared to "signing on the dotted line". Once you've voted, you've agreed to those terms, and you'd be an idiot to agree in writing to terms that you don't find acceptable. A simple promise to maybe somehow change them later is meaningless, and most of us would not accept this under everyday circumstances.

    And not to mean, but I don't think anyone commenting here has any idea of whether the initiative could be amended after a vote or to what extent, so any and all assurances to that fact could be characterized as baloney.

  • Rin Kelly says:

    "@Jon: You mentioned things like the public benefits cap being “fixed” in the DDA. As far as I understand it from my conversations with city staff for a story to come on the DA/DDA issue, that is not accurate. They say that the Development Agreement on the ballot measure contains items that are typically negotiated in a Disposition and Development Agreement, and that the initiative, if passed, sets these in stone, meaning they in fact cannot be negotiated later. As I said, full story on this bit at a later date."

    This is my understanding as well from conversations with lawyers and Alameda city staff.

  • Jayne Smythe says:

    Okay, so, I guess the Mayor did not say any of this:


    Mayor Johnson is a lawyer; didn't she read the entire initiative before she lent her name and voice and picture to support it? She now doesn't want to come out and admit she was wrong. But she also doesn't want to admit that she lent her name and her office to the developer to convince the public that this initiative was good for Alameda! Or to admit that she was rude and dismissive to anyone who questioned the initiative.

    Personally, I am thankful that folks have been asking questions, even in the face of negative feedback. I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about redevelopment and the initiative process! And thank you, Michele, for your continuing investigations!

  • Barbara M says:

    Somebody please explained to me how the light bulb just went off in the mayor's head. Wasn't like the "business side" was just released this week. Did I miss something?

    I personally see the plan and the deal as 2 different things. Can't say as I have read enough of it so have a truly educated opinion but I doubt this is the best way to end up with whatever we will end up with. What I do believe sincerely is it won't get built anyway. Don't get me wrong I would love to see something happen out there. Just like Congress we have 2 extremes in our city. We have the city who seems to have this "that is how we have always done it, never work with a plan or goals" kind of mentality. On the other hand there is a group that may have some very valid points but spews them with so much hatred and malice I can't even hear them. Any points they have that may be accurate are underneath innuendo and implications that are far from true. Having had loved ones on the receiving end I am also sure that that side does nothing to ensure their facts are true. As mushy as it sounds at least on a blog like this, Michelle tends to take a fact-check style with her stories. Don't get me wrong I love opinion ones like Lauren's too but this is the closest thing we have to a real news source in this town.

  • Mark Irons says:

    David Howard,

    "There is no plan without the initiative." That is not even theoretically true. But SunCal has in effect put all their eggs in one basket, and the rejection of the initiative, if that occurs, may effectively be the nail in the coffin for the plan.

    You seem to take great pains to tar Len Tam at every turn as the some sort of point person who pushed SunCal from the outset, but other than citing Doug's second on Lena's motion, because you had to mention it as part of the record you were quoting, you don't hold Doug to the same standard. Doug specifically favored SunCal over the others and one reason for that was that they are not publicly traded. That is in the record too if you chose to find it and post it.

    SunCal's inclusion of Peter Calthorpe and their private ownership seemed like assets at the time and not even you predicted the economy hitting the fan and that Henry Paulson and the hatchet men from Goldman Sachs seeing to the demise of Lehman Bros when it did.

  • David Howard says:

    Mark – thanks for making my point for me! You're right! I think Gilmore made sense on May 8 2007 to press for diversity between Alameda Landing and Alameda Point – i.e. not choosing Catellus for both.

    And I think Doug deHaan did the right thing too, by favoring SunCal's private money over Catellus-Prologis pay-for-it-every-quarter-on-Wall-Street money. Who could have predicted at that time what would happen to Lehman?

    Tam's, Gilmore's and deHaan's fault were that they were duped by SunCal's and Lehman's pretensions of having a $666 million private equity fund backing them. Duped just like everyone else. It turns out that none of the money was really there – click my name for a report. Neither myself nor my research team can find evidence that either SunCal or Lehman fully funded the $666 million ($600 million Lehman, $66 million SunCal) "fully discretionary" fund that SunCal bragged about to City Council.

    But Doug deHaan didn't let his face or his voice to a robocall/mailer campaign as did Mayor Johnson. And Doug deHaan didn't express support for SunCal's plan as did Lena Tam as recently as September 24th – well after Lehman failed and the economy hit the fan. When asked to go on the record, deHaan has said – to Action Alameda News, and to the Journal, and to The Island, that he supports neither the plan nor the initiative.

    You can split hairs all you like – the reality is that, as SunCal has stated, the plan is the initiative, and the initiative is the plan. You don't get one without the other. SunCal has threatened to walk if their initiative doesn't pass, so they are saying that "the plan" doesn't work without "the business."

    When Lena Tam comes out against the initiative and plan, maybe I'll be convinced.


  • Jack B. says:

    For whatever it's worth, I had puts on Lehman :-)

  • William Smith says:

    There has been some discussion about how to “fix” the Initiative. Perhaps the EIR (State of CA Environmental Impact Report) process, vigorously fought for and defended by the Sierra Club, can provide us with a process and time for “fixing” the Initiative.

    Below I propose some ideas on how this might be done. The “fix” would certainly not be elegant, nor is it clear to me that a fix is even legally possible. Perhaps the best reason to explore a fix at this time is to get ideas on how to get the Initiative needed to enable the Plan right the next time.

    Comments?? Should the Council schedule an early election and give up on a “fix” or schedule the election later to provide an opportunity to negotiate a “fix?”

    Alameda Point EIR

    A Chance to Turn Promises into Legally Enforceable Commitments?

    A Working Strategy Paper
    for Comment by the
    Alameda Community

    Many East Bay residents support the plan for up to about four thousand five hundred homes and nearly 4,000,000 square feet of retail and commercial space described by SunCal for Alameda Point in their presentations, but do not support the ballot Initiative written by the SunCal and D.E. Shaw Hedge Fund development team. While the Initiative would enable the plan to be implemented, the Initiative also assiduously avoids committing SunCal and any successor developers to carrying out any part of the plan, including the many benefits widely marketed throughout Alameda by SunCal. Plan supporters, but Initiative opponents, who include the Alameda Chamber of Commerce and Renewed Hope Housing Advocates, might reconsider and support the Initiative if SunCal’s promises became legally enforceable commitments as well as good faith efforts.
    For many developments, promises of community benefits and fiscal and traffic mitigations would become legal commitments during negotiations between the developer and the City, sometimes as an adjunct to the preparation and approval of an Environmental Impact Report on the development plan, such as in the DDA (Development and Disposition Agreement). Except in the case of a voter initiative, the City Council must certify the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) required by the State of California for major governmental actions before the development can proceed. In the case of the current Alameda Point Initiative, although the City Planning Board voted to approve the preparation of an EIR, the EIR will likely be advisory only as certification by the City is not required for the Alameda Initiative to become binding. Thus mitigations for the development must be negotiated not with City officials, but with voters directly. If voters don’t approve of the mitigations, they can vote down the Initiative. Without an EIR, though, voters will have no mitigations to consider at the time of the election.
    I’ve been working for nearly 20 years to build the infrastructure and buildings required to support the type of vibrant mixed use community SunCal has described for Alameda Point, but I regretfully find that I must actively oppose the Initiative. The Initiative commits the Developer only to a good faith effort to bring about the many promised benefits. I could reconsider my position if the unenforceable promises SunCal has made to mitigate financial, traffic and environmental impacts of the Alameda Point development could be more easily enforced in court. Rather than delay cleanup of the decaying buildings there for several more years, I’d prefer to salvage the Initiative by turning the promises of the SunCal and D.E. Shaw Hedge Fund into legally enforceable commitments on any Developer awarded the privilege of developing one of the largest and choicest properties in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area.
    Perhaps Alamedans and East Bay citizens, notably Oakland’s Chinatown residents and businesses by which much of the development traffic would have to pass, could use the EIR process to develop a list of benefits and mitigations that would make the Initiative acceptable. If SunCal and the D.E. Shaw hedge fund, or any developer, can legally commit to implementing items on that list should the Initiative pass, we may have a workable process to address concerns with the Initiative. The Initiative requires that all changes, except those due to State or Federal legislation, be proposed by the Developer, not by the City. Thus any Developer, in this case almost certainly the SunCal and the D.E. Shaw hedge fund development team, would have to agree to legally commit to modifying the Initiative either before the Initiative passes, or the City vests another developer with development rights at Alameda Point (the Initiative has been written to make it very difficult to select any Developer except the SunCal and D.E. Shaw Hedge Fund team).
    A list of community benefits and mitigations, in addition to those promised in good faith by the Initiative (e.g. fiscal neutrality and improvements in traffic management), could also include
    1) a required reduction in the average number of trips per resident and trip times during commute hours to regional transportation systems averaged over all modes, whereby any increases in trip time for single occupancy vehicles to the 880 freeway could be balanced by a decrease in the trip times and increases in patronage for other transportation modes such as buses, ferries, bicyclists and pedestrians,
    2) provisions guaranteeing that the Developer, presumably the SunCal and D.E. Shaw team, and all successors, will negotiate mitigations, especially involving controls on project phasing and scheduling with the City both for the EIR accompanying the Initiative and for subsequent EIRs accompanying the DDA (Development and Disposition Agreement) and each project phase, and that once agreed to, the Developer will be legally bound to propose those mitigations as changes to the Initiative, and that should the Developer not agree to the mitigations or propose them, the City, as it can for other EIRs, will not be obligated to certify the EIR even though the disputed mitigations involve items that the Initiative specifies are to be left to the sole discretion of the Developer,
    3) that as the government entity most responsible for the health and well being of its citizens, the City of Alameda, can, at its sole discretion, impose remediation requirements on property at the former Naval Air Station for the purpose of protecting its citizens and the Bay that may be stricter than those required by the State and Federal agencies, especially for uncontained underground plumes of chlorinated hydrocarbons and for former dumpsites with hazardous or radioactive materials below the water table, and
    4) that the Developer agree to propose to use the same development and permit review process as used throughout the rest of Alameda rather than the streamlined process described in the Initiative that removes much of the discretion of City officials when granting permits. Many of the good features in the development review process described in the Initiative could be adopted and applied uniformly throughout Alameda after going through the normal public process for adoption.
    Perhaps if the citizens of Alameda and other East Bay Communities with an interest in seeing the successful redevelopment of Alameda Point, put together a comprehensive list of our benefits and concerns, we can come up with a process for modifying the Alameda Initiative to make it suitable for guiding the development of Alameda Point, and of the Alameda and East Bay communities, for the next 25 or more years.

  • Barbara Thomas says:

    Great Jack B! Too bad City Staff wasn't as well informed as you were.

    We can blame our parttime elected officials all we want. What can we expect for $50 a meeting? How diligently did our highly paid City Staff review these entities before signing away our future? Who was responsible for the poor advice given our Mayor and Council? Just because our Mayor and Gilmore are lawyers, doesn't mean that they provide the legal review for City contracts. With over 70 people making 200k plus, the citizens are getting the short shrift on everything. It is the citizens and blogs like Michele's that have led the way to enlightenment with SUNCAL. Not anyone who works for the City. We are doing their jobs for them, and they are taking all the pay, then letting us shift all the blame to our poor duped Council. They get paid no matter how this comes out, while the citizens suffer.

  • Jayne Smythe says:

    Well, I've got to say that I hadn't thought about it that way, Barbara! Thanks for putting it in those terms. So, the city staff, especially those who receive part of their income from SunCal, are making the city council take all the heat for what they are essentially lobbying. Okay, I'll buy that.

    But, what now? I mean, the mayor DID lend the status of her office and her voice and her picture to the SunCal cause and that is what got them the signatures. I'm guessing there is nothing she can do now to undo that. Or can she? Could she and the council offer any information to the county clerk that could invalidate the signatures? Or to deep six the initiative?

    Or will this thing be shoved at the voters no matter what?

  • David Howard says:

    Here's another way to think about it… maybe the Mayor knows something the rest of us don't about SunCal's ongoing participation….maybe based on that knowledge she figured the time was right to change her position to be on the right side of the inevitable…

  • DLM says:

    Jayne: I'm guessing as well, but: I believe that once the City Clerk has sent the Initiative on to the Registrar (as she did), then it's accepted as being technically correct. The City Council could probably delay the election date (as they did w/the firefighters' petition), but I don't think they can flat out refuse to put it on the ballot — still, I don't know what the consequences are for the city. SunCal has a $1,000,000 deposit, and I don't know when or whether they're entitled to get it back if the Council doesn't put the Initiative on the ballot. If they do delay the vote, then the city is stuck in the exclusive negotiating agreement (which now ends next July) until the vote takes place.

  • Barbara Thomas says:

    The citizens are screwed either way the initiative goes. Staff is in a win win position. That’s the way it always is. Staff just gets paid to do their jobs. There is very little anyone can do to ascertain the quality of their work, until the situation deteriorates to extreme levels. Remember Flint carrying off the books at the end? Staff has no vested interest in the success and quality of life after they have moved on. They apply what they have learned from textbooks and other cities. They have fun, do their jobs and their failures are suffered by those they leave behind. I cannot believe that any Councilmember would have voted for SUNCAL if they knew what the citizens have uncovered in the last months. Or saw the extend of the Initiative and its Development Agreement. But for $50 a meeting, well you get what you pay for. The Council has to rely on their expert staff to advise them as to what is best. Now that Councilmembers have publically articulated their positions, it may harder for them to acknowledge how bad this will be for Alameda.

    The exclusive negotiating agreement lets staff off the hook. The Mayor has learned from the blogs and elsewhere how bad this is. Let’s wait and see how many abandon SUNCAL’s ship, but it’s not fair to call them rats. If our City goes down the tubes(pardon the phrase) staff can use their experience to apply for higher paying jobs in new cities that haven’t yet had the benefit of their experience. They are not directly accountable to the citizens. They can sit back behind the sidelines and watch the Council take the heat. Heat for which the Council should have been better counseled before hand.

    Has anyone brought it to the District Attorney’s attention that there is probable cause to believe that each signature, based on the video, was obtained by fraud? Or our attorney general. That is 9,000 plus misdemeanors. The Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court recently denounced the initiative process as a tool of special interests. Sure when there is no enforcement of the laws that would preclude this from taking place in the first place. If SUNCAL had to tell the truth in its “pitch” its Initiative would have never qualified. If City staff had taken a stand and pointed out the key points in the “Summary” it could have altered the situtation. Instead the community is going to tear itself to shreds in the next six months trying to resolve a situation which should never have occured.

Leave a comment!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.