Letters to the Editor
I noted with interest a recent letter (“The time has come for ranked-choice voting,” Dec. 13), complaining about the election results and how the presence of Frank Matarrese on the ballot took enough votes from Mayor Trish Spencer to allow Councilmember Marilyn Ashcraft to be elected with a minority of votes.
And while I am not a real fan of ranked-choice voting, I would agree that this case makes a good argument for it, although whether it is less “anti-democratic” than plurality voting is debatable. Let me point out here that there is no “best” voting method, they all have some flaw.
The retention of Councilmember Jim Oddie despite his coming in third in a two-seat race, raises other objections, more clearly anti-democratic. I refer to “at-large” elections for Council.
Alameda’s dependence on a “weak mayor-strong city manager” form of government, combined with at-large City Council election is truly anti-democratic and it’s time Alameda dragged itself into the late 20th Century. (The 21st Century may be too much to ask.)
These forms were designed, in the mid-18th Century, specifically to disenfranchise ethnic minorities and the less-wealthy. Currently, it demonstrably disadvantages the West End (I believe [might be wrong] only Tony Daysog lives west of Sherman).
As an Alameda resident, I honestly don’t know whom I would contact should I have some problem with the city (perhaps that’s the whole idea). With districts, it would be clear who “my” Councilmember is. And Alameda’s struggle to find and keep a good city manager. Recent scandals, show, painfully, the bankruptcy of the strong city manager form of government.
The Alameda Sun received a copy of this letter addressed to Mayor Ezzy Ashcraft, Vice Mayor John Knox White and Council Members Malia Velia, Jim Oddie and Tony Daysog.
Dear incoming City Council:
The League of Women Voters of Alameda (LWVA) strongly supports the Open Government Commission’s unanimous Nov. 14 vote that the title and description of item 6-G from the Oct. 16 City Council meeting was insufficient to give the public enough information to understand what was happening. The commission is asking for the Council to rehear the item.
LWVA strongly advocated the formation of the Sunshine Task Force in 2010 and participated in many of its meetings to develop the Sunshine Ordinance. In 2012, the ordinance was approved by the City Council and reviewed by city staff and the City Attorney’s office. It was described as ‘an affirmation of good government and continued commitment to open and democratic procedures… [and] an effort to expand our citizens knowledge, participation and trust.’ The Council entrusted the Open Government Commission as the body to hear violations of the Ordinance.
The city is now asking the commission to reconsider its decision, potentially stripping it of any authority to levy penalties for violating the Sunshine Ordinance. Prior to its adoption in 2012, the Ordinance went through extensive reviews by the City Attorney’s office, the public and the City Council. The League is not clear on what has changed (other than staff in the City Attorney’s office) that invalidates this part of the Ordinance.
LWVA believes that transparency and proper noticing of meeting agendas in clear language are essential to open and democratic procedures and participation as stated in the description of the Ordinance. If the city still supports these principles, the appropriate remedy is re-noticing the Ordinance.
We urge the City Council to uphold the Open Government Commission’s decision and its right to levy penalties upon violations of the Sunshine Ordinance.
On Dec. 3, the World Bank announced that it will invest $200 billion to tackle climate change. It’s a bold and much-needed statement from such a globally recognized entity and a potential source of funding to offset projected City of Alameda investments in infrastructure and climate change resiliency projects and other strategies for the city.
As an island city, Alameda needs to lead the charge in the Bay Area in climate change resiliency projects and strategies if we are to fully realize our future economic potential.
No other city in the San Francisco Bay Area faces as great a land mass loss, population displacement or economic loss than Alameda would incur due to sea level rise alone.
Thus, I would propose that Community Action for a Sustainable Alameda and the City of Alameda bid a proposal for World Bank Climate Change funding.
With our future projected economic and housing contributions to the region, Alameda presents a strong case to establish a safeguard to potential future economic losses as a city and region from the projected impact of climate change and sea level rise.
Instead of raising sales taxes or fuel taxes we should pursue avenues of significant funding to protect our city, and enable us to thrive into the future.