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Decision 2010: Open season

Submitted by on 1, July 9, 2010 – 5:00 am17 Comments

This coming Monday, July 12 marks the opening of the filing period for candidates interested in running for mayor and two open City Council seats in November. Nomination papers will be available in the City Clerk’s office, which is Room 380 at City Hall, and anyone who is a registered voter in Alameda can run.

The deadline for filing the papers is August 6, though that deadline is extended until August 11 if an incumbent chooses not to run for his or her seat again. Mayor Beverly Johnson is termed out of office this year, as is Councilman Frank Matarrese.

Lena Tam is running again for her open council seat, and Alameda Health Care District Board trustee Rob Bonta has also announced plans to make a council run. Three members of the current council – Marie Gilmore, Frank Matarrese and now Doug deHaan – have said they intend to run for mayor, as has former City Councilman Tony Daysog.

Johnson said she hasn’t decided yet whether she will run for one of the open council seats, as has been widely rumored.

DeHaan’s wife, Gail, sent this e-mail to friends to let them know her husband’s campaign announcement was coming:

You may have heard a rumor that Doug deHaan is running for mayor in the November election. The rumor is correct, but the official announcement will be forthcoming in the next two or three weeks. Our family is behind Doug one hundred percent. We realize that Alameda deserves a leader with integrity, intelligence, commitment, and most of all, an individual that has always wanted the best for our city. As in the past, Doug will run a grassroots campaign. Meaning he is not indebted to any developers or special interest groups for funding. It’s the hard work of the voters that make a campaign successful. Doug completely supports campaign financial reform (a limit on individual campaign contributions). As many of you know, he has always been pushing for campaign reform. Voters should ask why any public official would be against campaign reform. There is no question that you can trust Doug to provide strong leadership and guide our city in the right direction during the next four unprecedented critical years facing Alameda. Your support would be greatly appreciated!

PARADEGATE UPDATE: As political outrages churn through this city with the speed of approaching hurricanes, it seems like an eternity since the Fourth of July Parade this past Sunday, and the controversy that surrounded that, eh?

Local candidates made some interesting and even entertaining choices about how to handle the Mayor’s Fourth of July Parade committee’s decision to bar local candidates from offering campaign messages in the parade, in the wake of a City Attorney opinion saying they had the legal right to do so.

Hospital board trustee Rob Bonta papered over the “for council” part of his campaign signage with what looked like construction paper, leaving “Rob Bonta City” for parade-watchers to take in. Former councilman Tony Daysog pasted a list of his accomplishments to the side of his parade vehicle, and Vice Mayor Doug deHaan announced his mayoral bid with signs along the campaign route.

The controversy might have stopped there, but for an interview Mayor Beverly Johnson gave to CBS5 in which she claimed the parade committee asked for City Attorney Teresa Highsmith’s opinion on the matter. We talked to Highsmith last week, and she said a member of the council who she wouldn’t name had asked for the opinion, though “the parade committee wanted to know also.”

She said the unnamed council member – who was unhappy they didn’t get a clear, yes-or-no answer – was concerned the city could get into trouble over campaign signs in the parade because the city donated money for it.

We spoke to Johnson last week, and she said she wasn’t the person who asked for the opinion. (Councilwoman Marie Gilmore, who is running for mayor, issued a statement last week saying she disagreed with it.) Johnson, who is termed out of her seat this year, defended the ban, though.

“This is an event for the community. If they want to have a (campaign) event, they can have an event,” Johnson told us last week. “I think that’s okay not to allow the parade to be a big campaign.”


  • Jon Spangler says:

    Do Mayor Johnson’s statements contradict the City Attorney’s about the source of the request or is there more to this? Hmmm…

    • Hey Jon,

      Thanks for asking that, because when I read your comment it occurred to me that I spoke with the mayor yesterday (about whether she was running for a City Council seat) and completely neglected to ask her. So I owe everyone a mea culpa on that.

  • Dennis Green says:

    We’ve got some tone deaf amateur politicos here. “ParadeGate?” C’mon. Even worse than “LenaGate.” And all that talk about smokescreens to take attention away from one scandal, that may be real, to focus on one that is not??? Like I say, Amateur Night in Island City.

    I’d like to see more crossover. A few years ago, you could be in favor of something progressive and something preservationist as well. That’s more true, I think, to human nature than all these assumed partisan positions that arise out of…what? Surely more than longevity. I doubt that I’ll support any of the candidates for Mayor, but don’t believe it makes much difference either. As I’ve said elsewhere, just more recycled political hacks coming back for more.

    I wish Michele would run for Mayor. At least we’d get someone articulate and charming. But at the same time, I don’t want to wish that job on anyone, with the unfunded pension issue coming at City Hall like a tsunami. See what the Governator is trying to negotiate with California public employee unions. Tough times to be in office!

  • Tony Daysog says:

    “Recycled political hacks”! . . . Who are you calling “recycled”? :)

    [ps: this is supposed to be a funny by me]

  • Dennis Green says:

    Oh, Tony, relax. Recycling is a GOOD thing, makes Alameda more Green. And besides, if I were you, I’d use that classic photo of you looking out across the Bay with that look of dreams and determination both at once, perfect Yin/Yang, on your face. I may even vote for you. Just convince me.

    Yr Old Pal Dennis

  • Tony Daysog says:

    Thanks, Dennis — I’ll come by your neighborhood soon enough and will definitely knock on your door to chat! Till then, all the best. :)

  • Dennis Green says:

    Tony, I’m looking forward to it. But you’re going to have to demonstrate more intelligence and better judgment than you did supporting SunCal’s Measure B and AUSD’s Measure E. Both very poorly crafted and unfair initiatives. I worked successfully to defeat both. And I’m now working with others who opposed E to come up with a school parcel tax we might support, more modest, flat-rate progressive tax, no split-roll, etc. and demanding reforms in AUSD mismanagement. You could always hitch your wagon to our Rising Star! ; – )


  • Tony Daysog says:

    Didn’t support Measure B / proudly supported Measure E

  • Jon Spangler says:

    Dennis, I have been reading your opinions for years and do not recall ever seeing anything “progressive” therein.
    I hope you will have something constructive to offer the students and families of Alameda other than the old, tired, and unjustifiable “cut the waste” and “end the mismanagement” lines.

    The pending school closures will hurt Alameda’s environment (more kids being driven across the island every morning instead of walking to neighborhood schools). They will also further reduce the quality of education that AUSD has managed to deliver under awful budget circumstances, thanks to state budget deadlocks. Will your proposals maintain our neighborhood schools and manageable class sizes? Retain music. art. PE, and other critical (but non-STAR-test) classes?

    If you plan on offering a plan that requires more draconian cuts, don’t waste your time. On the other hand, if you have a more equitable plan that will help rescind most of the $7.2 million cuts this year or the $17 million next year, I am all ears…I voted yes on both B and E, and have no problem sleeping at night, BTW.

  • Dennis Green says:

    Tony, you would do well to look more closely at mismanagement at AUSD. Get the jump on Frank, who also blindly supported Measure E without digging deeper than “Hug a child today! Vote yes!” I interviewed Superintnedent Vital and Trustee Spencer, both of them twice, studied carefully the new Master Plan, did some digging into AUSD hiring practices and budgeting. Then I interviewed Trustee Mike McMahon, who seemed like a decent sort of guy if a bit of a locker room bully. But there are three of his relatives on the AUSD payroll, including his daughter, who is working as “Webmaster” and is truly, sadly out of her depth.

    Vital is also paying political consultants Erwin & Muir $300/hour for very bad advice, up to almost $100K so far. Outside attorneys $250K defending Measure H. Still taking her 3 percent salary raise on almost $200K/ year. And not making any of the really tough decisions, like negotiating some serious, if temporary salary cuts across the board. I don’t really blame the teachers. They are caught between their unions and AUSD management. But if you dig in, you’ll find much reform is needed, and a much more fair, progressive parcel tax! Any candidate for Mayor who gets out ahead of this issue has my vote!


  • Jack B. says:


    You seem to take a lot of delight in torpedoing the efforts of AUSD management and trustees. Do you take equal delight in torpedoing the quality of education for young kids — let’s say K > 3 students — or do you just overlook them as collateral damage?

    Serious question. Because it’s Alameda’s youngsters that are most impacted, IMHO. Btw, you never answered an earlier question I asked you: specifically, which grades have you taught in a classroom as a teacher in elementary/middle/high school?

  • Dennis Green says:


    I didn’t answer your question because it seems so irrelevant. What grades have YOU taught in a classroom as a teacher in elementary/middle/high school? See how your answer is designed by the question to disqualify your having any opinion? What nonsense. As I’ve written before, if you think “Secondary” is all that different from “Freshman English,” you’ve forgotten your own experiences.

    Moreover, like you, Jack, I would assume we both experienced those critical grades as students, and were minimally qualified to judge the experience. Mine was like a minefield, with more of my teachers boring and unqualified than capable of lifting my spirit off the ground. And that was certainly the experience of the students of my second wife, Pamela, who taught high school English. So what’s your point? That because I taught Freshmen English at one great university and several minor ones, including a Baptist college, that I don’t know what I’m talking about? How very LAME.

    I take no delight in being accurate about AUSD mismanagement, and in fact was totally in the dark until I interviewed the Supe and two Trustees. Have you done so? If you have and if you’re impartial, you would be dismayed by the majority view, their “Master Plan,” the structure of the parcel tax plan itself, and the impact it would have had on the community. You seem to adopt that same old “Hug a kid/Vote yes on E” mentality that drove their campaign. I can’t help you. You’re just going to have to help yourself.


  • Jon Spangler says:

    Dennis Green,

    Since when is is any more “fair” to ask AUSD’s overworked and (relative to other teachers in the Bay Area) underpaid teachers to absorb additional cuts to their income than it is to ask K-3 kids to try and learn in classes that are too big?

    “Fair” is a very relative word to you, apparently. I suppose in your value system a commercial property owner is being treated “unfairly” if her/his taxes increase? It seems to me that commercial property owners (Ed Hirschberg comes to mind since he made himself a public example) are members of a very privileged economic class with far more political and social power than the average public school student or teacher. i find it difficult to feel really empathetic towards someone sitting on millions of dollars in assets.

    Do you own residential or commercial property, by the way? I think that is a fair question since it addresses whether or not you might have potential conflicts of interest vis a vis the funding of AUSD via parcel or property taxes.

    (For the purposes of transparency, I owned a home until we sold our Gold Coast SFR in December 2009. And I never voted against increasing my own property taxes as a homeowner when schools, libraries, and other public services were on the line. And now that I rent again, I know that my landlord will readily pass on to me any additional commercial property taxes s/he is assessed if I vote to raise them.)

    By the way, I did not realize that you had a monopoly on being “impartial” or “being accurate” when it comes to opinions about public school policy. (“Gee. I was wrong all this time and i never even knew it until I read Dennis Green!” – Not…)

    You are assigning value judgments when you claim that teachers should take pay cuts, for instance. (Your assumptions seem to be that they are overpaid for what they do, or that they should make sacrifices before commercial property owners, who are apparently more valuable in your world-view than teachers.) To say I disagree with your apparent values is a major understatement.

    I DO think it is fair to ask you if you have ever spent time in an AUSD classroom, and, if so, when and where you have volunteered (or been paid) to help teach Alameda’s schoolkids. What ARE you contributing to public education, other than your analysis of local politics or your commentaries on school funding?

  • Dennis Green says:

    Jon, I own no commercial or residential property in Alameda or anywhere else, got out of that racket years ago. Don’t rent either. Live under a bridge maintained by CalTrans! (Actually, I’m a kept man.) What have I done for the Alameda Schools and school kids? I served on the board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce for ten years, 18 months as its president, and directed annual contributions from our organization to the AEF, organized and participated in visiting classroom lectures by small business owners to encourage kids to develop the skills that would enable them to go into biz for themselves one day, as a board member of the Boys & Girls Club I obtained a grant from the Valley Foundation, a former client, for $100,000. So I’ll put my chops up alongside yours any day.

    As for those millionaire commercial property owners, you’d be surprised, obviously, how many of those business owners, in this economy, are on the edge. Taxes of almost $10,000 a year could push many over. What’s unfair about asking the teachers to take the same sorts of hits the rest of us have, either in our salaries or our investments. I respect the fact that they’re not whining, but neither are the people I know who voted No. If you don’t see the unfairness in a residential parcel tax that is regressive, hitting the small cottage on the West End as hard as the McMansion on the Gold Coast, then I would recommend you take a refresher course in civics.

    As for my opinion being any better than yours, that’s not the point. Is my argument any stronger? Am I being any more rationale? Are your emotions getting in the way of your perspective more than mine are? All fair questions, and questions of fairness. Ponder them in your heart.


  • Mike McMahon says:

    Gee I did not realize my one and only meeting with Dennis Green would end up with a characterization I have no idea comes from. Here is what Dennis wrote about my interview:

    AUSD School Board Vice President, and immediate past president, Mike McMahon, is deliberate, chooses his words carefully, and is very straightforward. He is able to explain things about the Alameda Unified School District I’ve never quite understood before.

    Hardly seems like a school yard bully to me.

  • Jack B. says:


    Perhaps I am a little less than thrilled about AUSD’s master plan, but better that than anything you’ve presented. I think my question to you is relevant, because while you claim [daily] to be the ultimate expert of how our kids should and should not be educated/managed, I’m not convinced you know the first thing about what young children need from our teachers and schools. Because you completely miss the point: this IS about the kids, not about your personal vendetta against AUSD management.

    Am I qualified to judge the experience? As much as anybody. I’m there and I’m involved. I see young kids coming from families who barely speak english. Believe it or not, they are your fellow citizens. Believe it or not, whether they get a decent education does have an impact on the community. Believe it or not, how many 2nd graders that have to share a teacher when they are just learning to read and right does make a critical difference.

    Hug a kid, indeed. AUSD’s plans may not be perfect but look on the bright side. The community votes the board in and this process brings more local control to our schools. What’s more libertarian than that? Oh, yeah, private schools for everybody. Right.

    And one more point I’d like to make loud and clear. Considering all of the debt that your generation and others have piled on to these youngsters, at least have the decency to empower them with the skills to pay it off for you.

  • Dennis Green says:

    Jack, as you know, Measure E had no bearing on the Master Plan. In fact, Trustee McMahon made it very clear that nothing in Measure E could be construed to guarantee any of the aspects of that Plan coming true. Nor is there any evidence that Measure E would have ensured those kids getting an excellent education in Alameda. I have no “personal vendetta” against AUSD, buf see in proficiency scores, in the AUSD budget, and in the obvious nepotism in it’s hiring practices evidence of mismanagement.

    That mismanagement can’t be laid off on the teachers, and certainly not on the kids. And I’m sure those kids present all sorts of challenges in the classroom. So what? As a classroom teacher, especially at Hayward State, I never woorked with a student who just sat there passively absorbing knowledge. If you want to blindly believe that only with the passage of Measure E would those kids be learning, and the teachers doing their job, I can’t reason with you otherwise. But in November I’ll have an opportunity to pass judgment on two of the Trustees responsible for the quality of AUSD management, and I suppose in March 2011 another chance to pass judgment on whether the next school parcel tax initiative is any more fair, whether it guarantees realization of the best aspects of the Master Plan or simply furthers the status quo.

    So will about 46,000 other registered voters in Alameda, and we’ll have until then to persuade them. Let’s just hope the next campaign doesn’t cost as much as this last one did, especially if it loses!

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