Letters to the Editor
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.
As voters, we expect our voices to be heard, our views to be respected and our votes to truly count.
In the November election not one of the candidates running for school board, mayor or city council received 50 percent of the vote, meaning that most of the voters voted against the winner. None of these newly elected officials have a mandate from the voters to do anything yet they will make decisions that will affect all of us.
If the latest polling results are certified, the numbers are as follows: In the School Board Race: Mia Bonta received 35.68 percent, Gary Lym 26.24 percent, Anne McKerghan 19.31 percent and Kevin Jordan 18.33 percent. In the Council race: John Knox White received 25.88 percent, Tony Daysog 22.69 percent, Jim Oddie 19.27 percent, Robert Matz 18.17 percent and Stewart Chen 13.64 percent. In the Mayor’s race: Marilyn Ashcraft received 41.96 percent, Trish Spencer 37.45 percent and Frank Matarrse 20 percent.
The result is that we will have a City government and School Board stacked with people who were not the first choice of the majority of Alameda voters. Given that Ashcraft’s Council seat became vacant with her election to Mayor this is even more egregious as Jim Oddie picks up that seat with more than four out of five voters not casting their vote for him. This needs to change as there are important decisions that will be made that affect the future of Alameda.
The way to remedy this is to adopt Rank Choice Voting which is approved for use in Oakland, Berkeley and San Leandro. Ranked-choice voting (RCV) makes democracy more fair and functional. It is a simple change that can have a big impact. By all accounts, voters who adopt RCV overwhelmingly found it to be easy and cost-effective. With RCV, you simply rank the candidates in order of preference.
If someone gets a majority after the first count, it’s over. If not, the instant runoff kicks in. The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and the ballots of those who selected that candidate as their first choice then go to their second choice.
Everyone else’s ballots stay with their first choice. The ballots are then re-tabulated. This continues until there is a majority winner. Given the results of this last election, wouldn’t it be great to know that the candidate who was the choice of the majority of Alamedans actually won?
The next election is only two years away and we need to ensure that the next time the true will of the voters is reflected in the candidates that take office.