Wednesday, December 20, 2006

City Council appointment fallout

Several interesting notes from the Steve Abercrombie appointment to the City Council on Tuesday night:

No. 1: Councilwoman Eveyln Tolbert asserted a measure of control over the council. Her one-candidate list effectively decided the appointment process. Tolbert will probably find a ready ally in Abercrombie in addressing issues of gangs and crime prevention (Abercrombie has been involved in the DARE program for years and was a former police officer in Hayward). Tolbert will likely be the major power player behind this new council.

No. 2: Mayor Brent Ives is able to say he is meeting one of his campaign promises: addressing crime and gangs in Tracy. Though community officials refuse to call it a gang "problem," this issue is gaining currency in a growing city, and the appointment of Abercrombie — who knows the community, is actively involved on many levels, and who, by all accounts, is easier to work with than the sometimes-prickly former Capt. Mike Maciel — is a major policital victory for Ives.

No. 3: Councilwoman Irene Sundberg is further isolated. Her continued support of Roger Adhikari for the fifth City Council spot casts her as unwilling to compromise when the council desparately needed it. Before this council appointment, Sundberg had the righteous leverage of wanting a democratic election for the fifth council seat (and this writer agreed with her). Now her position is very tenuous. Her support for Adhikari suggests that she is very focused — perhaps singularly so — on a pair of controversial developer deals, and her arguments and positions are likely to be ignored on this council. Expect more than a few 4-1 votes on this council.

No 4: It sets up numerous 2008 possibilities. With Sundberg's increasing isolation, expect council hopefuls to be licking their chops at a chance to take a run at her. I have a hunch Maciel will take another run at council, and I wouldn't count out Celeste Garamendi. Despite a failed mayoral bid in 2006, the mayor's seat is up for election every two years, and she could be angling to bounce Ives from the top notch. Abercrombie's seat could also be in play, depending on his performance.


cdomingz said...

Hello Jon,

Please help me understand why a unanimous vote should be coveted by the council or their constituency? A 3-2 or 4-1 majority passes a motion and second. Whether you have 5 or 500 voters on any given candidate or issue it's okay with me if it isn't unanimous. In fact, if it always were then I would be suspicious that the outcome was worked out in advance. A healthy democracy has ample room for a 4-1 or 3-2 vote. Consensus isn't always what it's cracked up to be, sometimes it calls for abandoning your principles for what someone else has decided is a greater good. As far as Sundberg voting for Adhikari, did you want her to abstain? Far more disconcerting was the level of control exercised over the questions posed to the candidates. None of which dealt with a few of the current issues facing our community, developer deals, Measure A's possible repeal, appeal of Judge Humphries decision, developer control over Councilmembers, Site 300 activities, etc. The sole criteria seemed to be who would play nice in the sandbox. Councilmembers are policy makers and that is why a special election should have been held so that candidates would have to put forth their platform in a campaign to be chosen by the voters. The Council denied the voters that choice because they claimed the cost would be too high, yet they regularly authorize large sums to be spent on matters of much less importance. I considered applying for the appointment but couldn't bring myself to participate because I don't believe the Council is qualified to appoint. Their actions proved it to and I believe the voters receive the representation they deserve. If they vote for candidates because of their stand on the issues I respect their choice. If they are voting simply because the candidate is an incumbent or belongs to their church or community service group I don't see how that effectively represents addressing the issues our community faces.

Michael Maciel said...

Just when I thought the the City Council's decison to appoint Steve Abercrombie to fill Brent Ives' vacant seat was going to be one of the biggest non-stories of recent times, a freind told me it had been mentioned in your blog.

Mr. Abercrombie's appointment came as a surprise to many (including me)and only those three council members who voted for him can explain their rational for doing so. They had the right and authority to appoint whomever they wanted and they selected Steve Abercrombie. I'm sure the three council members that voted for him all had their own reasons and we will probably never know those reasons.

When, during your analysis of the council decision, you to state that "by all accounts" Mr. Abercrombie will be easier for Mayor Ives to work with than I am, it causes me to question whose accounts you've been listening to. I invite you to contact anyone in the police department or community (including Tracy Press staff) with whom I have worked during my 23 years of police service or the recent campaign. I also suggest you directly ask Brent Ives, Evelyn Tolbert and Suzanne tucker. I feel that one of my greatest strengths is my ability to work with people and have demonstrated that many times while solving problems in this community.

When I made the decison to run for public office I realized I would be the subject of public opinion. All I ask is that if you are going to write about me, get to know me (or at least about me) first. Please, contact me in person and form your own opinion.

I'm sure that the experience Mr. Abercrombie gained while teaching DARE classes in Hayward will be of great value to his fellow council members as they attempt to confront Tracy's public safety issues. As a member of the community, I will also offer the council my input. I am proud of the role I played in making this a safe community while working in Tracy, solving Tracy's crime problems, helping to direct Tracy's public safety resources and interacting with the citizens of Tracy regarding their concerns. I have some ideas that can make our town even safer.

I'm sorry that some people consider me "prickly." I do try to be direct when confronting what I believe to be inaccurate or misguided information. That is why I spoke out against the vague accusations of "backroom deals" and blatantly false claims made during the recent campaign that members of the city council had supported a Tracy population of over 200,000 in the general plan.
Those are untruths.

I have been described as "straight talking" and in other complementary terms, but if speaking out in the interst of truth and accuracy is being prickly in the opiniopn of some, then I guess I'm guilty.