Proposition 64 legalizing pot is not that big a deal

Smoking marihuana is more fun than drinking beer, But a friend of ours was captured and they gave him thirty years. Phil Ochs from Small Circle of Friends  just-say-no

I should be more excited about Proposition 64 which if passed will legalize the recreational consumption of marijuana in California. After all, as an individual who grew up in San Francisco close to the Haight Ashbury, I have been a user of this substance for most of my life since experimenting with the stuff as a teenager.

Currently for me, making it OK to legally smoke a joint should be a big deal; but it isn’t. It appears that I am suffering from a strange case of “Reefer Madness” In this case apathy seems to be a more appropriate sentiment. I just don’t care.

How could such a condition exist for an individual who has been an avid consumer of pot even before my foray into the counter-culture while attending college at UC Santa Barbara and living in Isla Vista? Has smoking weed for so long finally turned my mind to mush to such an extent that it has destroyed my brain into a permanent state of station identification?

I don’t think so. It is still possible for me to conduct business and write articles which make sense to some folks. However, these activities are best done straight under the influence of nothing stronger than coffee. I learned a long time ago that wine and/or weed are not a creative force for a matter of any substance. On the other hand consuming moderate amounts of alcohol and marijuana can be a pleasurable pastime when not on the clock.

With this being the case why does Proposition 64 not excite me? Perhaps the reason for this is that one of the greatest allures of smoking pot is that it is illegal. Such a “we versus them” mentality was an important component of the counter culture generation in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Going along with the loss of all the paranoia associated with being as a doper is the concern that by legalizing weed, the outcome will not be satisfactory. There is a haunting suspicion with my generation that if the government gets involved with marijuana distribution, they will screw the process up like has been done with virtually everything else they have tried to regulate.

Not even taking into account warning labels, disclaimers, packaging requirements, calorie counts for edibles, and formulating THC percentages, we can count on the “do gooders” in Sacramento to eventually reduce the quality of cannabis to save consumers from themselves.cheech-and-chong-parked-meme

And let’s not forget controversies which will inevitably ensue when some expert concludes pot causes cancer for labratory mice that eat triple the amount of cheese they would ordinarily consume. There will be so many studies done that an extra 10 cents per gram will be needed just to fund research grants. People like me who have been under the influence for years will become valuable guinea pigs for studies on long term effects of cannabis use providing we can remember to show up for meetings.

There are also likely legal issues that would come up should marijuana become regulated by the government. Using the same logic as the anti firearms lobby utilizes to make gun makers such as Smith & Wesson responsible for crimes committed with their weapons; we can expect similar suits against weed purveyors.

I can just see the defrocked American’s with Disabilities attorney’s suing the makers of Cheetos for millions of dollars claiming that this product caused poisoning for their midnight munchies challenged clients. Baskin Robbins might find themselves on the defensive should a consumer of what Alice B Toklas distributed O.D. on massive amounts of Pralines and Cream. Who would pay if a recreational marijuana user needs to attend a 12 step Jack in the Box avoidance program?reefer-maddness

Even then, as things stand consuming marijuana still violates Federal laws. Theoretically, emissaries from Washington D.C. can crash the party at any time and arrest all who are involved with pot sales. Likely, this same type of stalemate will continue until the Feds changes their stance. Unfortunately, there are just too many individuals in our puritanesque culture to allow for the legalization of marijuana to be the law of the entire land.

The biggest issue that various agencies in government from local communities to Washington D.C. are trying to deal with is whether marijuana and its derivatives as a class #1 drug have legitimate medical uses. Those in favor claim that ingestion of THC assists the appetites of cancer patients undergoing chemo therapy or treatment for anorexia. It has many other applications including providing assistance for sleeping and providing pain management for those with chronic arthritis.

On the other hand under the present system in California recreational users of pot can be granted a user card approved by a so called doctor for any imaginable reason varying from I hate my mother-in-law to claiming depression because their regular dope dealer is on vacation in Hawaii.

The bottom line is that marijuana and immigration laws are basically on the same level of selective non enforcement. In both cases this leads to a lack of respect for government authority. A good example of this is sanctuary cities in places such as Berkeley and San Francisco where dopers’ and illegal aliens can run free with impunity with no consequences of being busted.

This Wild West state of affairs is not good for society. In many ways things have not changed much since the days of Cheech & Chong. Most of the laws pertaining to pot are literally and figuratively “up in smoke”.  Even worse is the money wasted over the years with enforcement and its effects on thousands of citizens? Putting people in jail has accomplished virtually nothing and wasted tax payer’s dollars with dubious results.

A choice needs to be made to either legalize pot sales, while trying to regulate its distribution versus the present system of anarchy which no one seems to like. This November, it will be up to California voters to weigh in on how they feel on the subject. Fortunately, the playing field for the vote on Proposition 64 is on a fairly equal level. With exception of some pro-pot business interests, there isn’t lot money being spent on this campaign.

Perhaps this present sad state of affairs explains my apathy about the outcome of Prop 64. Few people believe that there is a significant risk of weed becoming a so called gateway drug which will lead to consumption of heroin and hard drugs. Yeh, it makes people forget promises made in the dark, where their car keys are located, and leads to a temporary state of couch potato syndrome; but smoking pot just does not seem to be such an important issue to me these days.

As such by a narrow margin, I plan on making a “yes” vote on Proposition 64. After all of these years it would seem to be hypocritical for me to become a follower of Nancy Reagan’s “Just say No” philosophy. The Baby Boomer generation and their siblings, who had to endure the “noble experiment” outlawing weed, should have this chapter of American history humanely come to an end on November 8th.

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Hillary making me nervous trying to live in a “deplorable” P.C. world

On better support Hillary or else
One  better support Hillary or else

“To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables.’ Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it.” Hillary Clinton before LGBT fundraiser Sept 9th

According to Hillary Clinton, those who are contemplating to cast their ballot for her opponent Donald Trump should be considered to be some form of a racist, bigot, white supremacist, or possibly holding KKK views. This kind of disturbs me. As an individual who grew up in the cultural milieu of San Francisco, my friends and business associates have historically been a literal United Nations of diversity.

Yet now the Democratic candidate is name calling in my direction because of me being an undecided voter. If the truth be known, the last time the last time I covered myself inside a sheet, it involved trick or treating pretending to be a ghost for Halloween. Even those who re-write history to depict George Washington and Thomas Jefferson as villains for owning slaves should give me a pass on that one.

Besides that I am of Jewish heritage which doesn’t exactly make me as a Face Book friend of David Duke or allow eligibility for the Lester Maddox Pickwick Dinning Club membership awards program.

As for being homophobic, this is clearly not the case. Again, I want to pull my San Francisco card and tell the world of my apathy for friends and foes sex preferences. Even if working in another life on Harvey Milk’s early campaign for Supervisor does not count, I have always had my fair share of gay friends of all stripes.

In my mind gay marriage is a non issue. If those of the same sex want to get hitched, they can be just as miserable as most straight people are. Who cares, as any card carrying libertarian such as myself might ask?

Being “Xenophobic “is another matter. I thought Hillary had me on that one because prior to looking this disorder up, I surmised being xenophobic was someone who has an aversion to Yoga classes, meditation, and self improvement pod casts. That is me.

Apparently I got off the hook because according to the reference bible Wikipedia:

Lester Maddox closed his restaurant down rather than serve African Anericans but used this as a spring board to become Governor of Georgia
Lester Maddox closed his restaurant down rather than serve African Anericans, but used this as a spring board to become Governor of Georgia. Ironically, Jimmy Carter served as his Lt. Governor.

Xenophobia is the fear of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange. Xenophobia can manifest itself in many ways involving the relations and perceptions of an ingroup towards an outgroup, including a fear of losing identity, suspicion of its activities, aggression, and desire to eliminate its presence to secure a presumed purity. The terms xenophobia and racism are sometimes confused and used interchangeably because people who share a national origin may also belong to the same race

It was a relief to learn that I do not belong in this subgroup especially because my day job is in international shipping where getting along with foreign cultures is part of the resume everyone in this field possesses. These same criteria equally applies to me for those who worship Islam as well.

As for being sexist, which Hillary accused those who do not support her of, I am somewhat guilty as my wife and daughters can attest. No matter how sensitive I pretend to be, it is still difficult for me to choose the Oxygen Channel rather than Sports Center for my viewing pleasure.

After all I am still a guy who struggles to be politically correct and sensitive to the feelings of others much of the time. Even if my approval ratings on the “macho meter” are somewhat challenged, I still faithfully empty the garbage each Monday and drag the can to the street for collection.

With this being said, there is still work to be done by me. On the other hand Hillary didn’t exactly hook up with Mr. Perfect either. When any women finds a mate without sexist tendencies, I would be more than willing to view the video production as long as it doesn’t conflict with a 49er game.

Hardly Mr. Perfect
Hardly Mr. Perfect

Having sexist leanings doesn’t preclude me from supporting female candidates or Democrats for that matter. Even if I am taking a pass for voting in the Hopson’s Choice Senate race in California between Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez, there are several office seekers of the feminine persuasion who will get my vote on November 8th.

Why then Is Hillary lashing out at middle class people trying to make us feel guilty should we not choose to make her President? I thought we were living in a democracy where being pro-choice was not only allowed, but celebrated as well? Apparently not.

Is Clinton confusing her desire to become the first Women President of the United States as a mandate to place her in the White House, no matter what one might think of her political views? In my case I do not approve of her work with the Iran Arms deal or what transpired in Benghazi while she was Secretary of State. And then there is email scandal which is still going on where it appears Hillary was not telling the truth much of the time.

These discressions could be cast aside compared to the Pay to Play tactics used to gain donations from foreign interests to the Clinton Foundation in exchange for favorable treatment by the State Department. In my mind they call such behavior treason.

So despite what Hillary might think of me, I still do not intend to vote for her ever. In the June primary, having “decline to state” registration, I could not select Ohio Governor John Kasich who would have been my choice. Unfortunately, one had to be a registered Republican in California to have voted for him.

With few options, I ended up supporting Bernie Sanders as a protest vote signifying my lack of alternatives. This act of desperation should have gotten my so called “progressive” friends off my back; but unfortunately I lacked the courage to tell them what had been done.

So as Jimmy Hendrix once said “Excuse me while I kiss the sky.” Or maybe a better way of saying this is what Stephen Stills quipped in For What It’s Worth “Nobody’s right if everyone is wrong.”

So be it.

 

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Bitterness still remains on selection process that made Lennar-Five Point developer for CNWS Reuse Project

By Richard Eber

Ted Antenucci, long time CEO of Catellus Development Corporation, seems to be a man at peace with himself. Picking over a Chinese Chicken Salad while at lunch with me August 12 in Aurora Colorado, the celebrated developer defended his decision to accept a token $250,000 fee in May of this year from the City of Concord to withdraw his company for consideration to become master developer for the 3 billion dollar Concord Naval Weapons Station (CNWS) Reuse Project.

Catellus President Ted Antenucci decided to "Take the money and run" rather than continue to deal with the powers that be in concord.
Catellus President Ted Antenucci decided to “Take the money and run” rather than continue to deal with the powers that be in Concord.

Given what had transpired during the past year with the competition Catellus had with Lennar-Urban, he didn’t think his firm could get a fair shake in dealing with Concord’s City Council and their administrative staff.

Despite the fact that Catellus has had a sterling track record of building successful developments while at the same time possessing a sound balance sheet, in Antenucci’s mind the City of Concord inexplicably worked overtime to discourage his bid. He was equally perplexed of why Concord was supporting Lennar Corp’s competing proposal which the city staff earlier stated was inferior to what his company had tendered?

Even worse, Antenucci reasoned, Catellus had none of the baggage that came with Lennar: no bankruptcies, no FBI investigations, no bribery allegations, no fraud judgments, no Dun & Bradstreet downgrade, and no failed IPO. No employees and consultants like Willie Brown or Keith Jackson were part of the Catellus team either.

Antenucci eventually decided to cut his losses and move on. In his mind, capital-rich Catellus has enough on their plate dealing with municipalities that are trying to recruit them. Why put themselves in a position to be involved where they were not wanted, he concluded?

Another aspect of Antenucci’s concerns was that in order to be successful in competing with Lennar to land the Concord contract, he felt Catellus would have had to engage in questionable business practices that were not of his firms play book. Antenucci’s firm, who in the Bay Area is best known for their work done with the San Francisco Giants in the area surrounding AT&T Park at Mission Bay, took responsibility for not recognizing earlier the poisonous political climate in Concord and for not getting out of the CNWS bidding earlier.

What led to Ted Antenucci dropping the Concord project like a hot potato? It all began July 30, 2015 which was the reporting time for political donations for state offices. The following month Catellus learned that then Concord Mayor Tim Grayson, who was running for the State Assembly, had received $14,800.00 in concealed donations from businesses directly affiliated with Lennar. This, he felt was in contradiction to a side agreement the two parties previously agreed to not lobby to be chosen for the Master Developer slot.

Catellus was furious about these payments even after Grayson, who feigned ignorance on the origin of the funds, ended up giving the money back. The only regret Grayson publicly expressed was not vetting who sent large checks for his Assembly campaign earlier. A few weeks later when it was revealed that Grayson had met twice with Willie Brown, purportedly seeking only “political” advice on running for the Assembly, Catellus was fit to be tied.

Brown, who openly lobbied on behalf of Lennar, was Kofi Bonner’s mentor when he was Mayor of San Francisco. Even worse, Brown and his partner Steven Kay were principles in Golden Gate Development. This firm was working directly with Lennar to raise capital utilizing EB-5 funds which gave foreign nationals green cards for job creation in the USA.

Also upsetting Catellus was that one of the parties who contributed $4,200.00 to Grayson’s campaign was Brown’s partner Steven Kay. Another individual donating to Grayson was Philip Bunting, whose public relations agency regularly represents Lennar. On top of that Kofi Bonner’s daughter had served on their advisory board.

An additional conflict of interest that disturbed Catellus was that Tim Grayson’s then campaign manager was Mary Jo Rossi, also a protégé of Willie Brown in the Assembly. She had strong ties to Steven Kay and Philip Bunting. Catellus had a difficult time believing that it was a mere coincidence that all of this money flowed into Grayson’s campaign with nary a clue about the origin of these funds.

Concord Mayor Tim Grayson-state-of-city
How the CNWS selection process will effect Tim Grayson’s Assembly bid will not be known until November 8th.

Things got even more estranged between Mayor Grayson and Catellus when Grayson’s personal attorney (San Francisco insider Jim Sutton) along with Mary Jo Rossi were working hand and hand trying to convince Concord City Attorney Mark Coon to push forward with the developer vote at the same time Coon was investigating Catullus’s allegations of wrong doing.

Coon quickly cleared Catellus of charges brought forth by Grayson that Catellus was engaged in a conspiracy with discredited developer Albert Seeno to take over the CNWS project. There were also allegations Coon rejected that Catellus was purchasing tickets to Golden State Warrior games for city staff to curry favor with them.

Things became even more inexplicable when Mark Coon tragically committed suicide in late October of 2015 during the midst his investigation of Catullus’s allegations of unfair treatment. Whether the turmoil which was going on with the CNWS project played a role in this tragedy has never been determined.

Trying to right the ship, the Concord City Council brought in an independent party respected attorney Michael Jenkins to look into what was going on in the Lennar-Catellus struggle. Two months later, the investigator came out with the Jenkins Report which said that Lennar definitely broke their agreement not to lobby the City council by virtue of the side agreement made earlier.

It was difficult for Jenkins to come up with any other conclusions about Lennar’s activities because neither Mary Jo Rossi, Kofi Bonner, Willie Brown, nor Steven Kay was willing to speak with him directly.

Though unintentional breaking the Brown Act's open meeting laws was the tip of the iceberg in the turmoil involved with the CNWS selection process
Though this action was unintentional, breaking the Brown Act’s open meeting laws was the tip of the iceberg in the turmoil involved with the CNWS selection process

Mr. Jenkins condemned Lennar’s influence peddling, but made no recommendations to the Concord City Council on how they should conduct themselves on a go-forward basis.

Shortly afterwards, the staff report under city project manager Michael Wright endorsed the Catellus proposal. Apparently this did not please the City Council. Mayor Laura Hoffmeister, City Manager Valarie Barone, City Councilman Edi Birsan, and Tim Grayson. They tried to keep this recommendation away from the public. As it turned out, in doing so they were in violation of the Brown Act.

What made this even slimier was that although several news media outlets, including the Bee and East Bay Times exposed the cover-up, nothing was done to censure or disqualify Lennar from the CNWS selection process. In making this decision the Council appeared to use the “everybody does it” excuse to leave Lennar in as a finalist.

Ironically, Michael Jenkins, who presented his findings to the Concord City Council one night, stayed in town to give a Brown Act tutorial to the same group the following evening.

Tim Grayson, who had been leader of the anti-Catellus forces, ended up recusing himself because of conflict of interest issues. Councilman Ron Leone did not participate in the selection process on the recommendation of the city attorney’s office because his house is located within 500 of the Weapons Station property.

Given what had transpired, it would appear that Catellus with their seemingly superior proposal and not breaking the any lobbying side agreements, was in a good position to receive the Master Developer contract. In addition they had a strong financial position that did not require them to mortgage the property they were developing to pay for infrastructure costs.

Another major difference between them and Lennar is that Catellus planned to auction finished building sites in the CNWS project to the highest bidders. This contrasted with Lennar, who proposed to sell the land essentially to themselves as they planned to build 60% of the housing in the CNWS.

When it is taken into account that Lennar would be subbing out the construction of 25% of the project which is to be of the affordable housing variety, according to present plans they will control 90% of market rate residential property sales and construction.

Under these circumstances, Lennar would have no incentive to sell property at its highest value since in effect they would be selling it to themselves. This could come into play because amenities such as parks, bike trails, and recreational facilities at the CNWS are to be paid for principally from land sale revenues.

None of this mattered as the selection process continued. Even with the damnation of Lennar in the Jenkins report, the City Council decided to keep them as a viable finalist in the selection process. This decision was now in the hands of only three members of the City Council: Mayor Laura Hoffmeister along with City Councilman Dan Helix and Edi Birsan, who were still eligible to vote

With only three individuals making the decision on the developer, it soon became obvious to Ted Antenucci that his company would not be selected. There was still a great deal of hostility with the City Council because of Catullus’s alleged aloofness along with airing their dirty linens in public rather than doing this more in private with the City Council.

Indicative of this Edi Birsan commented at a Council meeting that he didn’t trust Catellus quipping he should wear a Kevlar vest to avoid being stabbed in the back by them.

Only Councilman Dan Helix, who is retiring at the end of November, seemed to be in favor of partnering up with Catellus. Seeing the writing on the wall, Ted Antenucci negotiated a buy out with the city. Once the agreement was made, the money was wire transferred into Catullus’s account the following day.

While Kofi Bonner and Lennar appeared to get the victory they coveted so much; no binding agreements have yet been executed by the two parties  It will be up to Guy Bjerke, who succeeded Michael Wright as project director along with City Manager Valarie Barone to negotiate the final terms with Lennar-Five Point.

Concord has shown some concern for Lennar’s bankruptcy with LandSource by limiting the amount of property they will allow them to control to no more than one 60 acre parcel at a time. Even if this provides some degree of security to Concord, the Council must also realize that they are dealing with an entity that has joined the exclusive club of Enron and Trump University in being represented by attorney Daniel Petrocelli in litigation matters.

Yet to be determined is how the transparency, co-operation, and team work both parties have pledged will unfold in the coming months and years ahead.

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Catharine Baker walks fine line to keep her East Bay Assembly seat

The only Republican from the Bay Area in the California State Legislature walks a fine line to keep her East Bay Assembly Seat

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It does not seem fair. Catharine Baker’s neighboring office holders State Senator Steve Glazer D-Orinda) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) are running for re-election virtually unopposed. At the same time Baker is involved in a tight race fighting for her political life trying to retain her seat in the State Assembly.

Catharine Baker leads the charge at a campaign rally. She takes a middle of the road approach to defeat foes on the far left and right
Catharine Baker leads the charge at a campaign rally. She takes a middle of the road approach to defeat foes on the far left and right.

With the exception of heavy duty politicos or someone close to a Google application, few people even know the name of the individual who is running against her. Why then is Catharine Baker, who has been acknowledged by virtually every non partisan news outlet to be intelligent, thoughtful, hard working, and free of the influence of special interest groups, struggling so much to get re-elected?

The answer is simple. Catharine Baker has the word “Republican” written behind her name. In the entire Bay Area she is the only member of the legislature representing the GOP.  This apparently is a scarlet letter that will not be removed until she is defeated or decides not to seek office.

Virtually all progressives detest Baker even though they will admit in private of their admiration for her work ethic and independence. Despite this she is a Republican whose defeat would mean the Democratic Party would likely have a two thirds “Super Majority” in the Assembly once again. Were this to take place they would be free to raise taxes with impunity. At the same time they would not have to face scrutiny from conservatives an any issues of substance.

If the same criteria Democrats use to evaluate Baker were applied to renting or selling property to racial minorities, they would be branded racists and bigots. Unfortunately, such one sided thinking in the gridlocked-polarized world of American politics today is not only accepted; but revered as well.

In addition, Baker’s difficulty with entrenched advisories on the left does not end with liberal ideologues. As a moderate Republican, she has similar difficulties with conservatives in her own party.  Because of being pro-choice and at times stepping over the isle compromising with democrats, some ultra right wingers want to purge the first term Assemblywomen from their ranks as well.

This is the same Agenda 21-Black Helicopter crowd who favors alleged ideological purity over gaining any success at the ballot box. They would prefer to listen to themselves saying “ain’t it awful” at country club gatherings as opposed to having a major influence in the legislature.

Those on the extreme right worry about the effects Agenda 21. They believe moderates such as Catharine Baker are the problem rather than the solution with iinacting political reform
Those on the extreme right worry about the effects Agenda 21 might have on society. They believe moderates such as Catharine Baker are more the problem rather than the solution with enacting political reform

Recently they have justified their coolness towards Baker because of her reluctance to support GOP candidate Donald Trump. While this might be a legitimate concern on their part, one might ask where her critics have been the last two years as she has served in the Assembly and been a breath of fresh air in the stagnant Republican Party of California?

Indicative of this turmoil in the GOP, during the past couple of years there have been four changes of leadership on the Contra Costa Republican Central Committee.  At the same time this group was of limited assistance to electing Baker, it was virtually worthless in helping a strong candidate Debora Allen progress to the second round in the Assembly race to replace termed out Susan Bonilla in the Assembly.

Indicative of how dysfunctional things have been in the Contra Costa Republican Party, former Vice Chair Hal Bray tendered his resignation after receiving 27 emails one morning of which 26 pertained to different interpretations of Roberts Rules of Order.

While it is true Baker claims that the Republican Party both locally and on a state level has always supported her, it is also known that the level of funds and boots on the ground furnished by Democrats and their allies in labor unions to their candidates, far outstrips the assistance given to her campaign.

Dealing with the assaults of extremists on both ends of the political spectrum, Catharine Baker depends on a delicate coalition of Republicans, moderate Democrats, and a large constituency of “decline to state” independent voters to propel her to office once again. Even the slightest change in the electoral landscape can topple her at any time. With only a slim 55% to 45% advantage to work with from the primary, Baker must continue to do her balancing act and hope outside forces don’t take votes away from her.

Of concern this November,  because of the large anti Donald Trump sentiment among usually staunch Republicans, this group might boycott the election. It is also feared that distain for Trump from Democrats and independents may make them reluctant to split the ticket to choose Baker in a seemingly minor race.

This scenario for a close election in the 16th District has not escaped Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount). After the June 2nd primary he commented about the Baker race this is a “top pickup opportunity” for Assembly Democrats and promised to spend what it takes to win the seat. During his discourse on defeating Baker, Rendon never mentioned her opponents name.

This is consistent with other Democrats who place more emphasis  on defeating the Republican from Dublin than supporting her advisory Cheryl Cook-Kallio, former Vice Mayor of Pleasanton. Her web site is sparse in details dealing with important issues saying:

Althoughcheryl Cook-Kallia is not exactly a household word in the 16th Assembly district, Democrats hope having a "D" in front of her name will defeat Republican Catharine Baker
Although Cheryl Cook-Kallio is not exactly a household name in the 16th Assembly district, Democrats hope having a “D” in back of her listing in the voters guide will spell  defeat for Republican Catharine Baker on Nov 8th

“A celebrated public school teacher respected Pleasanton City Council member and tireless community activist Cheryl has fought to: enhance public education, increase affordable housing options, improve streets and roads, and make our community safer.”

Her web site advocates pouring more money into public schools with no accountability, It states Cook-Kallio will continue to be a champion for women and families, take on the fight for equal pay for equal work.  She is in favor of increased background checks for gun owners and wants to invest in infrastructure projects to assist in building the economy.  These stands are consistent with those of most Democrats holding office in the legislature

Despite lacking specifics on dealing with pension and budget deficits, educational reform, cap and trade, quality jobs leaving California, BART strikes, and a host of important issues, we can look for a flood of brochures to flood mail boxes in the 16th District  prior to election day extolling Cook-Kallio’s virtues.

It will then up to voters to determine what is most important to them. Will being a Democrat “trump”, (no pun intended) the quality of the opponent in the Assembly race. Baker, with her back to the wall as usual, hopes that her constituents will be able to discern facts as opposed to the absurd propaganda Political Action Committees (PAC) will be dispensing prior to November 8th.

Assuming that “the force is with her” and Baker triumphs, perhaps it will be appropriate that the GOP gives the Assemblywomen the long overdue recognition she so richly deserves. In this case this would be bestowing a leadership role to her in the Republican hierarchy of the State Assembly 

This would signify that Catharine Baker has more than fulfilled Al Davis’s motto,” Just win baby.”

 

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Orinda Mayor Victoria Smith will not seek re-election

Orinda mayor and city-council member Victoria Smith has decided not to seek re-election,

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Orinda mayor and city-council member Victoria Smith has decided not to seek re-election, according to unimpeachable sources.

Victoria Smith Orinda Mayor
Orinda Mayor Victoria Smith will not seek re-election in 2016
Smith was first elected to the Orinda City Council in 2004. She was re-elected in 2008 and 2012. She is a real-estate attorney.

Smith is currently Orinda’s mayor, a job which rotates among city-council members. Smith became mayor in December 2015. Her term as mayor, as well as her seat on the city council, expires in December 2016. The city council has five members.

As of August 12, 2016, three Orinda residents, in the November 2016 election, have filed papers to fill two open seats on the city council. The three individuals are Darlene Gee, Bruce London, and Linda Delehunt.

Gee, an engineer, was appointed to the city council on July 15, 2015. She filled the vacant seat of council-member Steve Glazer, who was elected to the California State Senate on May 19, 2015. Glazer resigned his city-council seat on May 28, 2015.

London is a retired medical doctor. Delehunt is a business person.

There is speculation that Inga Miller, an Orinda real-estate attorney and business owner, will soon file papers to run in the 2016 race for city council.

Smith, since her election in 2004, has been an ardent advocate of real-estate development projects in Orinda.

Smith has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Monteverde/Eden Housing project at 2 Irwin Way. The project is across the street from Orinda’s firehouse and the local branch of Citibank. Both the firehouse and Citibank are on Orinda Way, a main thoroughfare.

Monteverde has been controversial because it blocks views of nearby hills and exceeds Orinda’s 35-foot height limit.

Smith has been a strong supporter of the Housing Element, a plan to build hundreds of new homes in Orinda. Some of these homes are to be set aside for low-income individuals.

Orinda has essentially no room for additional housing. Between, 1960 and 2010, the city’s population, according the U.S. Census Bureau, grew from 4,712 to 17,643 people, a jump of 275%.

In December 2014, Smith voted against a city-council motion to discuss the Housing Element. However, the motion passed by a vote of 3 to 2. The motion, introduced by city-council member Eve Phillips, was supported by Phillips herself and two other council members, Glazer and Dean Orr. Voting against the motion, in addition to Smith, was council member Amy Worth.

Eve Phillips
Councilmember Eve Phillips advocated citizen referendum on Orinda Housing Plan
At a city-council meeting in January 2015, Phillips introduced a motion to have an Orinda-wide public referendum on the Fifth Cycle (fifth version) of Orinda’s Housing Element. Phillips’ motion did not receive a second, killing it. Failing to second Phillips’ motion were Smith, Glazer, and Orr. Worth was not present.

In the spring of 2016, California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, proposed a massive state takeover of traditional functions of local government. According to the Los Angeles Times (June 2, 2016), Brown ” . . . wants to wipe away local and state rules on parking, height, density, and environmental reviews beyond those already required through zoning.”

Aware of the governor’s plan, Smith wrote to members of the State Legislature stating that “The City of Orinda opposes the recently-released proposal by the governor to pre-empt local discretionary land use approval of specified housing developments . . .” The mayor’s letter was dated May 26, 2016.

In her letter, Smith said: “Like other residents of California, the citizens of Orinda expect to be part of an open and transparent process in shaping the community.”

Smith added: “The public process is key to our democracy and voices on all sides of issues have the opportunity to be heard.”

Smith also wrote: “The citizens of Orinda are extremely engaged and involved in local matters and have a strong expectation of being listened to by local public officials.”

Smith received, in her 2012 campaign for the city council, support from labor and business interests.

In that campaign, Smith received $1,500 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 302. Other labor interests also contributed: Northern California Carpenters ($500) Operating Engineers Local 3 ($1,000); the Teamsters Union local branch ($250); Northern California Carpenters ($500); and Contra Costa Labor to Labor ($150).

In her 2012 campaign, Smith received $250 from Republic Services, a garbage- collection company. Another contribution came from another garbage company, Waste Management, which also donated $250. Waste Management is responsible for collecting Orinda’s garbage.

Information on Smith’s 2012 campaign contributions came from the Orinda city clerk’s office.

In recent years, Smith has served on the Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority. The Authority is responsible for setting Orinda’s garbage rates.

When Smith joined the Orinda City Council in 2004, garbage-collection rates for the typical Orinda household were $59.46 per three months. By June 2016, those rates were $109.71, a jump of 85 percent.

At press time, Smith could not be reached for comment.

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Darleen Gee will seek full four-year term on Orinda City Council

Darlene Gee, who was appointed to the Orinda City Council on July 15, 2015, is seeking election to a full, four-year term in November 2016.

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Darlene Gee, who was appointed to the Orinda City Council on July 15, 2015, is seeking election to a full, four-year term in November 2016.

Darlene Gee replaces former Orinda City Councilmember Steve Glazer, who was elected to the California State Senate.
Darlene Gee replaces former Orinda City Councilmember Steve Glazer, who was elected to the California State Senate.
Gee, a civil engineer and Orinda resident for 26 years, filed papers on August 5, 2016, with the Orinda City Clerk’s office.

Gee has provided services for many Bay Area transit organizations, including Caltrans, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, BART, AC Transit, and San Francisco International Airport.

Gee is a vice president of the HNTB corporation, which has done work on Levi’s Stadium (home of the San Francisco 49ers), a BART extension, and the control tower at San Francisco International Airport.

In recent years, Gee has supported increases in Orinda’s property taxes. In 2015, she supported Measure J, a $20 road-repair bond. The measure passed.

In 2016, she supported Measure L, a $25 million road-repair bond for Orinda. The measure passed in June 2016. Measure L asks property owners to pay between $117 and $210 per $100,000 of assessed home value.

Gee was appointed — not elected — to the city council. On July 15, 2015, six candidates applied to fill one vacant seat on the council. About 20 audience members spoke in favor of the candidacy of Owen Murphy. One audience member called for Robert Thompson’s appointment. The city council selected Gee even though no audience member expressed support for her at the July 2015 meeting.

On controversial issues affect Orinda, Gee has been reluctant to take positions. In November 2015, after four years of severe drought, Gee was asked if she favored a moratorium on real-estate development in Orinda. Gee said that a moratorium should be decided by Orinda’s water supplier, the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD).

In a July 2015 interview with the Contra Costa Bee (formerly Halfway to Concord), Gee was asked if she favors predictable zoning for Orinda. She replied, “No I don’t.” Predictable zoning can prevent a city from stationing such structures as a firehouse or a car wash anywhere the city wants.

In that interview, Gee was asked about Plan Bay Area, a scheme to require Bay Area communities to construct high-rise, high density housing. Gee said that Plan Bay Area is “is good, solid regional planning policy.”

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