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Submitted by on 1, March 15, 2010 – 1:49 pm10 Comments

Just got an e-mail from Lena Tam saying she’s dropping out of the race for Alice Lai-Bitker’s soon-to-be-vacated Alameda County Supervisor seat.

Gotta run, so here’s the announcement:

Lena Tam has made the decision to withdraw her candidacy for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, District 3 in this upcoming primary election.

I am very honored to have the support and endorsement of Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker and many community leaders in Alameda, San Leandro, Oakland Chinatown, San Lorenzo, Ashland and Hillcrest Knolls. Although my experience as the Vice-Mayor of Alameda, President of the Alameda Health Care District Board and Chair of the Alameda County Planning Commission would serve the County during these difficult economic times, the City of Alameda needs my experienced leadership more at this time.

During the last few weeks, it seems that every member of the Alameda City Council is running for some office, either mayor or board of supervisors and actively campaigning. I believe that the time needed for me to campaign can be best dedicated to running the City of Alameda.

As the City and County of Alameda face unprecedented economic challenges with budget cuts, job losses, union contract negotiations, revitalization of Alameda Point, program cuts and declining revenues, we need “all hands on deck” with experienced elected officials to lead. It has become even more clear to me that campaigning for the Board of Supervisors at this time is distracting my attention from taking care of business and governing the City of Alameda. I need to finish the job that the voters of Alameda elected me to do, and that is to provide strong, thoughtful leadership on the City Council.

Similarly, at the East Bay Municipal Utility District, where I am employed as the Manager of Water Resources Planning, my department is short-staff because of hiring freezes and retirements and declining revenues because of the recent drought. I am a key expert witness in an upcoming State Water Resources Control Board hearing, and will need to devote significant time to protecting the water rights of the East Bay.


  • Ken says:

    This is really strange. Earlier on this site Lena Tam said, “I think right now, the best fit for my skills and interests is going to be at the regional level.”

  • Mark Irons says:

    Ken, welcome to the world of politics. “Right now” was right then. This is today. If you did the math and thought your chances for supervisor were not great, would you choose to stay in Alameda and run for your current seat? I think Lena was encouraged to run by Alice giving her the endorsement and she knew how really well qualified she is for the county. A lot of folks don’t really know what the county government does. I think Lena was the better candidate before she withdrew, even if San Leandro mayor had also officially decided to run. Wait and see who has backing from whom and the picture may get clearer.

  • elliottg says:

    President of the Healtcare District Board AND backer of the Suncal ballot initiative; two good reasons for me to doubt her judgement.

  • Barbara Thomas says:

    Don’t forget TAM leading the fight to take WW EB REGIONAL PARKS money from public parks and give it to a private Boys and Girls Club. Without going standing in line and through the regular process that every other applicant went through. They just went to the head of the line thanks to TAM. And completely risking the tax exempt status that EBRegional sold the bonds under by so doing. So much for regional smarts and concern. I appreciate her being up front with “protecting our water rights” which probably means preserving water for another SUNCAL like dense and water consuming availability at Alameda Point.

  • Lauren Do says:

    Mark: What you said.

    As to the B&G Club money, the decision by the majority Council, not just Lena Tam , was to send the B&G Club’s application to the EBRPD for consideration of Measure WW money. The final determination is in EBRPD’s hands. If it is determined that they are unable to fund the application, then EBRPD will reject it and something else in Alameda will be funded with the money intended for the B&G Club. The decision to send the B&G application to EBRPD did not “risk the tax exempt status.” And there really was no “line” that all the other applications went through to be selected for potential funding. Just a list crafted by city staff.

    Now that it is shaping up to be practically a head-to-head between Wilma Chan and Beverly Johnson (I’m not sure Harold Lowe of Oakland will make a huge difference), Wilma Chan has the distinct advantage of name recognition regionally and some key endorsements like the Alameda Labor Council.

  • Barbara Thomas says:

    According to the City Council minutes in October, “On August 19, 2009, Councilmember Lena Tam submitted a Council Referral Form for City Council consideration (Exhibit 2) requesting authorization to amend the City Council’ s prior list of potential Measure WW projects to include a $2,000, 000 grant to The Boys and Girls Club.”
    But for LENA TAM, that would have not been put on the agenda.

    TAM’s sponsorship of the very idea, flies in the fact of what is best for the region, and in ignorance of what and how other regional agencies operate. If EBRegional says no, after its bond counsel (oddly enough sometimes Alameda bond Counsel) says it will jeopardize its tax exempt status how beneficial will the time and effort wasted be to the persons involved, the B & G Club, and the many speakers and persons who were motivated on both sides of the issue?
    It appears at least some of our elected officials don’t take the time to adequately research local issues before throwing their support whole heartedly into achieving impossible or unbeneficial goals. BEVJO’s robocalls and then a complete reversal, and TAMS sponsorhip of the B&G application. So far the amount of damage this lack of effort has been limited to the City of Alameda.
    Alamedans spent many bitter, devisive hours on both sides of both issues. With real leadership these two battles should have been avoided and the time spent working productively creating positive solutions that could have been supported by most if not all on both sides.
    So did these examples of “leadership” really qualify either of them to take the helm for the entire county? Where many more and much more difficult decisions will need to be made that affect millions of persons? The social welfare, transportation and regional and national security are the subject matter that faces County officials everyday. Gives one thought.

  • Lauren Do says:

    Council Referrals are just that, referrals. The majority of the Council could have said, “no, we want to leave the list as is” and the Referral would have died.

    But, the majority opted to move forward, and the eventual recommendation from City staff was to include the B&G Club on the list and the Council majority voted to include it on the list.

    Also, while technically a non-profit organization like the B&G Club is considered private, it’s not a yacht club. It’s a place for community kids to go to participate in activities they may not be able to afford to otherwise.

  • Barbara Thomas says:

    No one else joined TAM in placing it on the agenda for a Council Referral, as can be done. Once it is out there for the public to come in and display all the posturing that went on, it places the others – who chose not to add their own names to the Referral- in a difficulat position of making enemies of very well meaning people who thought everything was fine and dandy when TAM took the ball and started running with it for them. Didn’t she ask her fellow councilmembers for support before she forced the City Manager to place it on the Agenda? Didn’t she ask the City Manager to explain the technicalities of approval and financing before she placed it on the agenda? Didn’t she call bond counsel and ask them before her efforts triggered dozens of persons on both sides to come and speak to the council? Was it clearly explained to them that the private nature of the B & G Club, places everything that EBRP District went to the voters for and hundreds of thousands of non-Alameda voters voted for stands to be jeopardized? Didn’t TAM understand that fundamental concept? Did she not tell her supporters? Did she just expect EBRPD to take the heat for any subsequent denial? She can hold her head high and say I really really tried. So what? If I try to lift my 2000 pound car up in the air without a jack, and then dust the dirt off my hands and say I really really tried, that only makes me stupid and ill informed about the laws of physics. Is that the level of operation that is needed to run our municipality successfully? Or are we doomed to be stuck in these high intensity fights over lots of issues because we have un-informed, leaders that don’t understand it is not about them and what is best for their current career goals?

  • Lauren Do says:

    There has never been a “joint” Council Referral since the City Council started using Council Referrals. The Referral process was meant as a way to “test the waters” to see if there is an interest to move forward on an agenda item before too much staff time has been expended on an issue that may not be a priority.

    The notion that a City Council member needs to vet an issue with every single City Council member ahead of time for a Council Referral and possibly violate the serial meeting rule of the Brown Act is puzzling.

    If the role of the City Council is to avoid issues that might end up being “bitter” or divide the community then the City Council should essentially do nothing because practically every issue in this City has a fairly loud contingent of folks both for and against.

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