New Mayor Brings Transparency Factor

Assuming the Alameda mayoral race is over, and no one is asking the Board of Elections to count chads, we can safely assume that Trish Spencer will be at the helm, steering the Island of Alameda around reefs, shoals and shady developers.

Not since such stalwarts as Doug deHaan and Bill Withrow stepped up to the plate, have we seen such integrity in city governance.

Anyone who knows Trish Spencer, knows she believes in transparency — even in local government and school boards.

Everyone likes the idea of transparency, but realistically, should the business of the city be conducted in a fish bowl or a bunker? If business is to be conducted in an aquarium, should not someone turn off the filter to provide at least a modicum of traditional murkiness?

Given the unaccustomed level in transparency that Spencer brings to City Hall, should the workers be applying sun screen with a higher sun protection factor?

Unfortunately, having been raised during the Cold War, Watergate and the Monica Lewinsky affair, openness in government really worries me. Were it not for openness, Nixon would have served out his second term and Lewinsky would have remained just another stain in Clinton history.

Obviously "Mr. Gorbachev," as requested by President Ronald Reagan, took down the Berlin Wall, but should we assume that no agents are listening when City Hall is trying to give away a golf course or a country club or debating whether to take a chain saw to a row of trees?

Let’s be real: the axis of evil has ears.

I don’t want to sound like some tinfoil hat conspiracy theorist, but need I remind you, North Korea is now a nuclear power and sits a mere 6,000 miles from Crab Cove? Do we want Kim Jung-un presenting developmental sprawl proposals at City Hall?

Would we want a Yankee Class submarine, armed with bottle rockets and Roman candles, surfacing in Ballena Bay to sway the City Council?

As we said in the Navy, "Loose lips sink ships and tail-hook conventions."

To dodge the letter and spirit of the Brown Act (Ralph; definitely not Willie), previous administrations labeled emails "draft" in order to shield their dubious correspondence from prying eyes, the right-wing press, ethics crusaders and KGB agents.

As an Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) trustee, Spencer unabashedly believed in openness; would she stoop to the "draft" dodge?

Need we worry about the sic semper tyrannis syndrome?

I think not!

Remember though, in all probability Vladimir Putin knew about the AUSD Earthquake Fence, girdling Historic Alameda High, before most of apathetic Alameda learned of it.

And when AUSD swapped $12 million in waterfront property for the Naval Officer Club parking lot, don’t think that the Iranians — spinning their centrifuges — weren’t onto the scam before the AUSD school board knew what they had done.


Jeffrey Smith is a retired Navy pilot who teaches math at Encinal High School.