Letters to the Editor
The Alameda Sun received a copy of this letter.
Mr. La Force:
Your intemperate letter to the City Council ("Invitation to sue," July 17) requires a reply.
Along with the supporters of the initiative, you imply that Measure WW was all about Neptune Cove. There were 67 projects in that measure: For Alameda, one to expand and restore Crown Beach, protect the shoreline, replace the interpretive center, and acquire excess federal property if it becomes available; and another for Bay Trail and shoreline restoration on Alameda Point.
This is not the only distortion supporters of the Crab Cove initiative have made. One of the signature gatherers approached me on two or three occasions claiming that Tim Lewis planned to build 100 units on the property. The number was 48.
I voted for the Measure WW, more for the Bay Trail than the beach, but also for the regional parks in other parts of the Bay Area.
Much of the support for the initiative is more opposition to housing than support of open space. I have heard several discussions dissolve into the usual rants about more houses and more traffic.
Alameda does need housing, especially for people of moderate income. Crab Cove would benefit from a larger parking lot on warm summer Sundays. There is much local sentiment for both housing and parks. There is even some recognition that preventing residential building in cities results in urban sprawl, increased freeway traffic, and greenhouse gasses.
I have been a resident of Alameda for 46 years and a member of the Sierra Club for at least 51. Reading your letter, I have decided to suspend my membership in the club.
I wish all Alameda residents had witnessed last weeks’ City Council meeting during which City Manager John Russo frequently bickered and badgered public speakers who were there to speak in support of the Crown Beach/Neptune Point ordinance, and against recent attempted adulterations of the same ordinance by the city and the City Council. It was not a pretty display by our city government.
I’ve lived in Alameda for 40 years, and I’ve not seen such a degree of interruption of public speakers. And let’s not forget condescension, which was also in evidence.
In the past, I’ve seen Mayor Marie Gilmore handle disputed matters much better, which is necessary as Russo has developed a reputation as someone who cannot let criticism or even minor points go by without a defensive response, and frequently an aggressive one.
This tendency was very evident at this meeting. It would behoove Russo, given his authority, power, education, large salary and strong voice to exercise diplomatic restraint when dealing with the public. Alameda residents deserve to expect restraint and civility from their public officials and city manager.
If the city manager interrupts and disrupts public speakers, my information is that it is the mayor’s duty to bring the City Council to order. Unfortunately, that evening our mayor chose not to undertake her authorized role. All in all, it was an unpleasant display to watch or listen to, and the meeting lasted way too long.
If you think my summary or interpretation may be an exaggeration, please review the meeting yourselves online, and come to your own conclusions.
This is a complaint regarding John Russo’s conduct at the City Council meeting on July 15.
I was appalled to observe the vehemence with which he interrogated Ms. Karin Lucas and Ms. Irene Dieter. He was vitriolic and overwhelmingly intent on intimidating and belittling them. His behavior was both extreme and outrageous.
As chair, you should have exercised control over your staff member so that the meeting could have proceeded in a more civil manner. Shouldn’t the council meetings be held in a hostile free environment and one in which citizens can voice their concerns and opinions without fear of intimidation and humiliation? I had planned to speak but changed my mind after Russo’s unwarranted and intolerable attack.
Both Ms. Lucas and Ms. Dieter maintained cool and calm demeanors and most importantly, exhibited grace and dignity throughout their inquisition. These are just some of the qualities that Russo sorely lacks and because of this, he seriously undermines the free expression of Alameda residents and the very purpose of the public comment agenda.
It is unfortunate that over the years you have become oblivious to his controlling, manipulative, aggressive and intolerant behavior towards citizens who courageously attempt to engage in civil discourse with you and the City Council.
On these and other grounds, his contract should not be extended beyond the present termination date.