Wednesday, March 4, 2009


The tally is in, and it was a lopsided NO, 66 to 33%. Somewhat surprisingly, there's not much difference in the mail vs. walk in votes

Election Day

We'll know in a few years who had a more accurate assessment of the County finances, and of forward going levels of services.

I never had any idea what broad sentiment was, and it looks like the silent crowd had a strong leaning against. We were called once for a phone poll, so someone had an idea-- but it apparently didn't get to the pro-side, who kept pitching strong. In retrospect, there didn't seem to be much juice in the anti-side, which suggests those who might have chipped in knew the result was forgone, and decided not to put more in.

It'll be time now for folks who care to push forward engagement with the beloved Mary N Piepho, perhaps to get a Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) established, and work that way.

We may also keep record here of things that will have happened since this election, as a reminder of what people thought they we going to have left alone.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

We're behind, but Alamo Today steps up


I've been distracted by a lot of things in my other life, but I'm pleased to note, and happy to praise Alamo Today for stepping up, and covering the election well beyond their traditional innocuous format.

In the March edition, the cover story is an observation about many of the changes that have happened in Alamo, many in recent memory. Some are for the good, and some remain controversial; the point being that things do not "stay the same", they change regardless. Thus the question is who controls and influences the changes that will occur. This is a shrewd article, being objective and identifying issues. This is well beyond Alamo Today's usual depth.

Inside is an even bigger surprise, a multi-page editorial that dissects and dismembers most of the arguments against incorporation, coming out strongly in favor. I can't adequately convey how out-of-character it is for a "shopper" newspaper to take a firm stand that potentially alienates a big fraction of the readership. I'm also impressed by the level of analysis and argument, and hope that this level of coverage will continue no matter what the result of the election may be. Having a real voice in the local media is a big step up.

Inside, Alamo Today has a bunch of candidate statements that are worth a read. I won't rehash them here.

Also, council candidate Kevin Morrow wrote here after we noted his lack of web presence to clarify his position. Like his father, also-candidate John Morrow, he's opposed, but wants those opposed to have a voice on a council if one is formed. Like his dad, we appreciate the clear position, even if we don't agree with their views on the incorporation. Having non-fans on the council might be a good idea, as long as they are willing to help make the town work rather than sabotage it. The Morrows seem like they want strong budget control and little change. That might match what the people want, and those folks would have a lot more influence in a town with the Morrows on the council than they do with Mary N. Piepho as our fractional representative on the county Board of Supervisors.

We're not going to endorse any candidates, though we know and like Karl Niyati personally. Read the materials we've linked yourself, make up your own minds, and GO VOTE on Tuesday.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A good FAQ

Over at the Alamo Community Foundation, theres a good FAQ reviewing things. It's old and slightly out-of-date, but is accurate in most respects.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Which Reminds Us

The Alamo Spotlight has still not put up the posting we made on October 9th. Could it be it is a one-sided organ of disinformation?

For instance, one submission that DID get posted passes (or creates) a rumour that The Town Will Kill Your Pets, or at least outlaw horses.

Biased, unsupported, rumor-mongering, trash.

The campaign begins

There are starting to be signs up a lot of places, there have been articles, and now there's even some mail happening.

There's another Candidates Faire on Feb 12th, 7-9pm at the Creekside Community Church.

Alamo Inc. notes that Sharon Burke -- one of those most involved in getting the matter to a vote, and who is not running -- is hanging out to discuss things and answer questions. She's at Cherubini's Tuesdays 7:30-8:30, and at Yellowwood Thurday's from 4:00-5:00. We've spent some time with her, and if you have doubts, it's a great chance to talk it through.

Let's start with the interesting articles. The Danville Weekly has come out in favor. More surprising, to me, is that the normally milquetoast Alamo Today came out in favor, with a pretty strongly worded editorial in the February 2009 edition that came out this week, and devoted a lot of column inches to the discussion.

So far, we've gotten two pieces of direct mail.

The first direct mail

A hand-addressed, regular stamped, stick-on return labeled letter envelope from the Connelly's. Bob (and who doesn't love someone named "Bob") is running for the council. He includes some printed-in-the-kitchen looking copies of endorsement letters, and a little brochure. He's in favor of incorporation, maintaining the rural character, and "individual property rights", which I take to be a regime of low regulation.

Bob gets bonus points for the folksy delivery.

The second direct mail

A professionally-bulk-mailed envelope from "We R Alamo No on Incorporation", with a Diablo Rd, Danville address. It includes a return envelope for sending them money, and contains a flyer that looks like the kind of hit-piece used in slimy campaigns. It features a stop sign with the word "TOWN" instead of "STOP", with a diagonal slash through it. No town! Get it?

It then repeats some of the stalking horses. "It's irreversible", "Bad Financial Data", "It will raise your taxes", "Loss of Highway Patrol" , "Low Income Housing", "Autocratic Government".

It is all, in my opinion, and to use a colloquialism, a load of horseshit.

Irreversible? So? Why does that matter if it is the right thing to do? We get to make a decision. Decisions have consequences.

Bad data? It's the best data that can ever be obtained in such a process. It looks viable. If these numbers are dubious, the alternative of staying with the County is worse. There are known County funding problems that are hundreds of times larger than the anticipated Alamo budgets. Think $1.7 billion in pension obligations vs. about a million a year in equalization cost to Alamo. No one can realistically think that Alamo has been getting more our of the county than it has been putting in.

Raise Taxes? Only if you overwhelmingly vote for it. Prop 13, remember?

Loss of Highway Patrol? So what? How much CHP patrol do we really see as it is? Not much. Danville has contracted its policing to the Sherrif since it incorporated. Is it short of public safety services? No. Is Alamo a high-crime area that needs all that much? Honestly, no. If you are worried about that, really, it may be time to move to Montana. This is a "scare the folks" argument.

Low Income Housing? This is garbage. Alamo starts with a succession of the County master plan. There is no particular provision in that plan for high-density, low income housing in Alamo. Alamo is mostly built-out. Adding anything to the plan would require a change to the town master plan that is very unlikely to happen. We can't be forced to make such changes against the will of the community.

Autocratic Government with no oversight? Utter crap. We'll have things called elections. Those ARE the oversight. If we don't like what we happens, we get to throw the bastards out.

Just try to make the kind of wholesale change we'd be able to make locally to the County Supervisors. Not gonna happen.

In sum, "We R Alamo" put out a mailer that
  • Makes totally bogus arguments
  • Is put out by professional spinmeisters from Danville

It has the smell of the hit-piece put out by scared moneyed interests we imagined would happen. So far, it is badly done, but that does not mean even nastier collections of misrepresentations and fear-mongering won't be coming later.

Shout Outs

Alamo Spotlight is affiliated with "We R Alamo" and continues to be incoherent and conspiratorial.

Stephen Heafey has paid for a bunch of "NO" ads in Alamo Today. Same talking points as Alamo Spotlight/Alamo R Us.

Candidates have their own sites, but there are some typos in Alamo Today's listings. You can also check the Livorna Hill for signs, and the reports from the Candidate Faires.

A lot of these folks have finance and management backgrounds, and everybody talks about fiscal responsibility. is Bob Connolly's site. He's a Pro-
is Grace Schmidt's site. She's a Pro-, worried about county cuts. is Steve Mick's. He's pro- and pushing small changes. is Karen McPherson's. She says she'll still work on the AIA if it loses. is Vishwas More's. Strongly pro, I can't tell anything else. is Roger Smith's. He's not tipping his hand either way. is Diane Barley's. She's not openly one way or the other, and thinks we'll get an appointed MAC from the county if we say no. is Karl Niyati's. He's a pro- is Randy Nahas'. He's a pro-, and notes cuts that have already been made by the county. is Brad Waite's; he's a pro- who thinks the county will run us over if we say no.
Vicki is Vicki Koc's; a pro- who also sees county cuts if we say no. She has the best site 'cause there is a map. is Dennis Johnson's; He doesn't come out and say he's a pro-, and seems to be selling "independance" from county regulation, balanced by responsibility to participate. is Joe Rubay's. He's not saying pro or con, and makes a point of his Republican affiliations.

Kevin Morrow is behind the curve, and seems not to have a site. I can't tell if he's pro or con.

John Morrow is an outspoken NO without a site. He says if we say yes, we should have a NO on the council. We appreciate the honesty and clear position.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Thanks for nothing, Home Depot

Haven't had time to say much lately, but today's news that the Yardbirds is being closed by the Despot is something of a blow to the town.

The financial analysis that supported incorporation did not include Yardbirds sales tax revenue, because it was closed over the time the analysis looked at. Supporters had been hoping that this realization would calm any willies people felt, because there would be more revenue than projected because of the store.

Well, not now, unless someone else puts something in; and I doubt the Despot will let another store in serving the same audience, wanting to shuffle people down to San Ramon or up to Concord.

The Despot is also closing the Expo stores, so we shouldn't take it too personally, but this isn't a help.