Monday, December 31, 2007

CC LAFCO Membership

From the CC LAFCO site, we learn the current set of Commisioners includes two Piephos, Mary N., and David.


Danville Weekly Forums

Digging around some more, there's lots of conversation going on at the Danville Weekly Forums. Here are some relevant topics:

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Curiouser and Curiouser

Little did I know -- Alamo has a political underground, it seems. It's mind boggling to me.

Apparently, there are a lot of people who feel intimidated by The Man, and have organized themselves like a revolutionary movement with "Neighborhoods" (cells) represented by a somewhat known individual, the members of which are held to confidentiality for protection against retaliation. Mail goes through the cutout, er, neighborhood representative, and then to anonymous mail addresses. This is called an "e-chain", a term that I have never heard before in 30 years of net use (predating the Internet, when it was the ARPAnet with 30 hosts in the whole country).

I learn we live in the "Greater Miranda Neighborhood", one of 29 "Greater Neighborhoods".

We are told that in this back-channel, most are opposed to incorporation, think of AIM as carpetbaggers, and a good number seem to want to change the name of the town -- "Diablo Vista" anyone?

What can be made of this?

Heck if I know! On one hand, the secrecy strikes me as just bizarre, but I suppose the possibilities of retaliation against local professionals and businesses is real, and not to be dismissed.

Yet, how does a shadow organization communicating through essentially anonymous email accumulate credibility? What I've heard so far is mostly vague allegation of chicanery by the proponents. The main substance seems to be that the preliminary finances were cooked to the tune of $3.7 million in year one. The alternative proposal of a "citizen-led contract service municipality" sounds interesting, but I don't have a clue what that would be like.

Where is a website explaining the opposition position and the alternative it offers?

We are not without criticism of AIM's selective communications, but we're not at all sure that guerrilla opposition is a high road to take in response.

It's easy to criticise (Hi Mom!), and always hard to do something. But what should Alamo do? I fear the "antis" are adopting a negative strategy of attacking AIM rather than the proposal itself, and not offering concrete alternatives.

I, for one, don't feel duped by claim the petition was presented as a "feasibility study", and filed as an "application", because I don't much see the difference. There is a formal study being done, and a real election to be held. If the formal study is shoddy, it will be ripped apart. If the proponents can't make their case in a run-up to the election, it will be hard for them to win.

I don't see any upside to the Powers of county politics for Alamo to secede from county administration and incorporate. And I don't yet see any real downside for the town.

Recent Non-events

We had some friends over for dinner last night, and the Incorporation question came up.

Our shared gestalt was that the significant opponents will be folks who are serial "flippers" in town. These are people who buy a property, fix it up somehow, then sell it quickly. They are fearful about increased review and inability to do the kinds of "improvements" they'd like to make. These are also folks with willingness to fight the proposal if they feel truly threatened.

Dustup at the DW

Anyway, there has been a little recent coverage. Over at the Danville Weekly, there's a letter wondering why the folks at AlamoInc have gone silent, and a whopping 28 entries in the comments. We'll conclude that DW is the place for discussion, as we've gotten zero comments to date.

The comments there are almost all negative, taking the position that the effort is (a) a subterfuge involving County politics as usual; and that (b) the petition was misrepresented as a feasibility study when it really is an application.

One of the main participants is Lisa Wright, who seems to be running an e-mail list that is attracting opponents, which we had not heard of before. There is a comment by Hal Bailey attempting to describe the lists, which I'm attempting to follow-up. They are "by invitation only", which is either oddly exclusionary, or an effective anti-spam measure.

Later comment suggests the private lists are related to the Alamore website in some way, and suggests that going silent after getting what is wanted from the public is Business as Usual with Alamo politics, and that we should be wary.

A look at Alamore suggests the mailing lists are related to the Alamo Community Council, which is one of the shadow bodies sponsored/tolerated/used-by the County Supervisors to appear to be responsive. It is one of the bodies that would be made irrelevant by an Incorporation. Those with traditional ties might feel threatened, so maybe it isn't surprising their mailing lists tilt negative.

Progress Report

There's a CCTimes article by Lea Blevins on on Dec 21st, reprinted at the Alamo Inc site. A contractor has been selected for the "comprehensive fiscal analysis". Proponents are still hoping for a March, 2009 ballot, and there will be at least one workshop to review the report. It isn't called a "feasibility study", so the semanticists at the DW comments and AIM seem like they can get out of it what they want.

This also means the election is over a year out, in 2009, which ought to offer plenty of time for discussion. It doesn't seem like it is being railroaded through on that timeline to me.

Earlier Complaints

The DW had an op-ed on Nov 2nd by Phil Erickson we'd missed, arguing against. He says the "pro's" are really people of the Danville-mindset who were for the YMCA and pro-Mary N. Peipho.

That kind of makes me wonder, because one of the joys of Incorporation to me will be making Mary N. Peipho less relevant to the running of Our Town than she is now.

He also makes the claim that Alamo has no retail tax base, which seems to ignore Alamo Plaza, I think.

In comments, Lisa Wright alleges misrepresentation in the fiscal analysis made by AIM to entice petition signatures, to the tune of a $3.7 million discrepency in first year funding. I'll assume if true, this will get addressed in the formal study.


The DW comments carry (some?) posts from the "Alamo Neighborhoods Forums." One had this disclaimer:

Alamo Neighborhoods' Forum is providing this information as a courtesy. Our forum supports the establishment of an Alamo Region Planning Commission and committees, as a SuperMAC, prior to any consideration of incorporation. The proposed Alamo Region Planning Commission and committees would consolidate SRV Regional Planning Commission activities for Alamo, county agencies such as R-7A and the AIA planning functions with neighborhoods' community counsel for formal planning advisory and compliance actions.

So the alternate proposal seems to be merging and institutionalizing the existing bodies in some way. How would they be funded? Unclear to me. None is elected now, and the supervisors are removing elections from some of these types of bodies that formerly were. I don't see how this makes sense, but maybe someone can explain.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Tauscher has no opinion

I wrote to Ellen Tauscher, our US Representative (D-Alamo), and got this response:

Thank you for writing to me about the Alamo Incorporation Movement petition. As you know, the petition has been signed by more than 3,000 residents and the Local Agency Formation Commission has scheduled a December 19 meeting at which a consultant will likely be selected to analyze the feasibility of this proposal. I support the will of the people of Alamo. As long as the Local Agency Formation Commission deems that incorporation is financially feasible, voters will have an opportunity to voice their opinion at the ballot box in 2009.

I'm glad we know where she stands...