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.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


In July, the ultimate configuration of the Stone Valley/680 intersection was taken off the table, in no small part to community resistance. This either demonstrates the County really listening, or the County scared to do something that would drive the town immediately into Incorporation. We'd guess the latter.

The redevelopment of the Danville Hotel site is an ongoing discussion. There's a proposal for a three-story building with an underground garage. Comments in the Forum are not positive. This is also raising discussion about what height limits are appropriate for downtown Danville. In the context of Alamo, a similar debate may ensue whenever Hay and Grain goes bye-bye; in Danville it's being held in Danville. In Alamo...

The local mayors of Danville, Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton and San Ramon spent some time patting themselves on the back for working together. They

credited their unified approach to dealing with regional problems for major improvements in the outlook for transportation, air and water quality and state and federal assistance for projects that can benefit the area.

Of the towns involved, neighboring Danville also seems closest to Alamo in other respects:

[Mayor Candace] Anderson said that Danville, which this year is celebrating its 150th year as a town, is nearing residential buildout.

"I don't see huge changes in Danville in the future except that we will keep updating and working to improve our downtown," she said. "We have a community that continues to attract new residents because of our excellent schools, a great downtown and yet still has that small town look and feel. I don't see Danville looking much different in future years, just becoming more charming."

Danville has more land open for development in its Master Plan than Alamo does, with planned restrictions - mainly the foothills West of SRV Blvd between Sycamore and San Ramon, and the ranch land near the Athenian; both are not particularly geologically stable, but have been eyed.

Alamo, in contrast, has less land in the county plan plausible for housing development, and is not coherently developed downtown. The most likely targets for redevelopment would be the Hay and Grain site down to Cherubini's and the stretch from Kahn Jewelers through the Car dealership. You can probably consider from Rotten Robbie through the Woman's Club in play as well. The really ambitious might say that most of Alamo Plaza except the Safeway could stand to be re-thought. Everything else in downtown seems new enough that redevelopment is probably not feasible.

Do the residents want a coherently planned, "charming" downtown? Probably not, as that would be more change than most folks would like for reasons of "character". (Or maybe they do, for personal values of "charming!")

Do they want haphazard development as it occurs opportunistically? Most probably don't want that either, but some might prefer it to aggressive planning , even if successful (see: Crescent Drive in Pleasant Hill)

What most folks probably want is no change, or only the change we like.

That is not always realistic, since change is inevitable, and the people who make change do it on their own agenda, not that of the by-standers.

The problems are how to decide what change we like really is, what we're willing to do to figure it out, and what we want to do about it. Do we do this by ourselves, or as allowed by the county supervisors? Should we feel blessed that they actually listened to us about the "ultimate configuration", or annoyed that we could only hope they would?

SRV Fire comments

We'd missed this before, and it was mentioned at the LAFCO meeting in September. With the boundaries as currently imagined, there is a slight overlap between SRV Fire and Contra Costa County Fire. As reported in Craig's semi-official SRVFire blog, it might be best if there were a realignment of service boundaries as well.

At the LAFCO meeting, it was pointed out that this need not be done at the same time as the incorporation, and many towns and cities do survive with multiple service providers. It's not fatal to the proposal, just something that would need to be worked out, said the LAFCO commisioners.

Thanks for the Plug

The mysterious "Alamo Ron" gives us a shout out at the Danville Weekly forums.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A fair point from Alamo Spotlight

Since we last visited, Alamo Spotlight now says,
On September 27, 2008, the Governor of California filed with the Secretary of State SB301, thereby eliminating the time constraint, June 30, 2009, LAFCO used to justify its decision at the September 18 hearing. This bill deletes the requirement that a city be incorporated before July 1, 2009, in order to be allocated Vehicle License Fee (VLF) revenues.

Consultant Gary Thompson and LAFCO Executive Officer Lou AnnTexeira told Commissioners that CFA data was based on the town being incorporated prior to June 30, 2009, in order for the town to receive VLF revenues. This new information, not available at the time the commissioners voted, will allow commissioners more time to address their concerns about the economic data contained in the CFA, and request updating the financial data accordingly.

One of the things that did drive the LAFCO decision was the existence of a deadline caused by the unpassed state budget at the time of the decision. With passage of SB 301, the deadline isn't there, so that is no longer a concern.

What would be of concern would be the wisdom of redoing the economic analysis, which will cost more money to re-do.

The question of who is financially leaning on who, County on Alamo, or Alamo on County remains unaddressed, and we note that while Alamo Spotlight has been updated, our submitted comment is still absent.

We take all kinds here, by the way.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Alamo Inc's new material

In contrast, the Alamo Inc has recently put up some reasonable and factual material.

Their update 11 (here until they break the link, sigh) contains a bunch of discussion about the Sep 18 LAFCO meeting that corresponds to my recollection, and goes into details of the financial analysis.

There is a letter from Sharon Burke, extolling voters to explore the issues and make up your own minds, and offers some arguments I haven't seen before:
One of the primary motivators for incorporation is the desire to protect our taxpayer funds from the excessive benefits the County agreed to with its unions. These costs are killing the County; it has no choice except to use County employees and overhead to perform municipal services for Alamo. An incorporated Alamo can contract out these services to private suppliers.

I'd implied that before, but never seen it spelled out clearly. Those who think the County might slide into bankruptcy ought to consider this seriously.

Third, there's passing word the AIA has institutionally voted in favor of the Incorporation, even though it will probably bring the demise of that organization.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Comment to the Spotlight

After looking at the Alamo Spotlight, I submitted the following as a comment. We'll see if it appears, or vanishes into a hole.

[Update: not added to their speak out page yet. I'll be surprised if/when it does show up.]

It is sad if these are the best arguments that can be made in opposition.

The main page here is discussed at:

Unfortunately the comments here don't allow links. It must be dangerous to allow uncontrolled access to outside information.

To summarize:

Reasons to incorporate include (a) local control of planning decisions; (b) disconnection from county finances.

Who is writing the check for the reconsideration? Why is the identity being hidden? If the conspiracy theories are valid for the proponents, can't they be true for opponents as well? Maybe anti-incorporation sentiment is being whipped up by developers who want free hands they are less likely to have with an incorporated city.

LAFCO properly heard all of the concerns that were raised here in bullet points before the vote was taken. They are in the LAFCO record of the meeting. The sinking state of the economy was known and raised; the claims about the petition were known; the fact of donation funding of the CFA was known. This is disinformation and smoke.

Planning estimates are estimates. If we think the economy is problematic, it is going to be problematic for the county as well as a city of Alamo. Should the county go bankrupt, is Alamo better off incorporated, or part of the county?

How is Alamo's $3.4M after ten years going to bail the county out of anything? It is a trivial amount.

I have heard very few, if any, arguments against incorporation that aren't fear-mongering.

Face it, folks, when the owners of Hay and Gray and the Shoe Repair fold shop, something else is going to go there. Do we want Martinez to decide what it is going to be, or us? At the last opportunity for such a change, we got an ugly strip mall.

Bring it to a vote, bring the real arguments, and decide.


Panic and Disinformation

I've just taken another look at Alamo Spotlight, after the LAFCO decision, and I'm basically horrified by what I've found. It seems to have been transformed into a panic-stricken emotive content only zone, and lost whatever rationality it seemed to have when I first looked.

(Curiously, it's a web-site that intentionally makes it hard to copy-and-paste content. This will not deter us!)
Thank you for visiting Alamo Spotlight, online to share your comments and provide reliable information on the incorporation of Alamo into a Contract-City. Our website offers Alamo residents who oppose incorporation an opportunity to voice their opinion and demand answers to the question WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF INCORPORATION?

Main answer: To ensure local control of future planning decisions.


5 p.m. OCTOBER 20, 2008

Say those who disagree, and don't want the issue to go before the voters directly. When things came present at the LAFCO meeting, the commisioners decided they would rather the voters decided then they alone. Apparently the folks at Alamo Spotlight do not want the voters to have the opportunity. Why not?

What LAFCO did not KNOW then, and should reconsider NOW
  • The current financial crisis is the greatest financial meltdown since The Great Depression of 1930. LAFCO should have the courage to reconsider its September 18 decision based on seriously flawed financial studies.

This was openly aired at the meeting where the vote was held and considered. The flaw in the financial model have been charged, but not clearly substantiated. The commentsby Alamo Spotlight that they are "seriously flawed" are assertions only, not here backed up by substance.
  • The Commissioners' doubts, regarding the financial data in the old 2006-07 model to approve the 2009 Alamo Incorporation, were denied consideration.

Demonstrably untrue. They were openly aired, were considered, and there was a vote which favored putting the measure before the voters.

  • LAFCO could not have known the Petition signed by Alamo voters for a LAFCO study, submitted with Application No. LAFCO 07-27, was secured with verbally misleading information prior to obtaining the signatures.

Also untrue; these charges were made before the meeting. They are now being repeated by the Alamo Spotlight as if they were (a) new claims, and (b) amounted to anything. The fact is that the signatures were obtained legally, and LAFCO has considered all input and had its vote. If Alamo Spotlight believed the signatures were illegally obtained, it could have filed suit to invalidate the filing. It did not, and has not done so -- we think because it is a non-starter.

As far as we can tell, the "sales pitch" given during the petition drive was accurate and not misleading.

  • LAFCO could not have known that $200,000 would be raised by Alamo Community Foundation, which solicited tax-exempt funds, to meet the requirement of "private money" to pay for LAFCO's incorporation studies.

This makes no sense at all, because there is nothing to complain about! The study funding had to be raised privately. LAFCO knew this. It did not know the name of the Alamo Community Foundation, nor did it need to; that ACF may or may not be organized as a tax-exempt 501c3 is irrelevant to anything. This complaint is like saying "LAFCO could not have known Troop 347 of the Girl Scouts was going to sell cookies without collecting sales tax!"

A Bailout for Contra Costa County on the backs of Alamo Taxpayers

When Tip O'Neill, Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1977 to 1987, wrote the book entitled All Politics Are Local, he was not kidding. We all know fiscally irresponsible governments can always feed at the taxpayers' trough. Who did the LAFCO commissioners think they were fooling holding the charade of a hearing at Creekside Church on September 18? Certainly not speakers who had the courage to challenge its flawed "studies" and certainly not the enthusiastic audience who supported the speakers' sentiments with loud applause.

Let's try to deconstruct this. First is a claim that incorporation is a "bailout" for the County. This assertion is left completely unsupported, and makes zero sense. The plan is for a one-time payment of about $3.4 million after ten years. This isn't going to be a thimble-full in the bailing bucket the county may need over the next decade.

Who were the commisioners "fooling" at the hearing? I was there, and it looked well attended by people of all persuasions. There were people who claimed the studies were flawed, and those who thought they were good enough estimates. There was enthusiasm for those opposed, and there was enthusiasm for those in favor. There were passionate speakers on both sides.

Alamo Spotlight is filing a Request for Reconsideration with the required check of $2500. A check written from a personal account. A check, which will not appear as a charitable deduction on any IRS tax form. The only goods and services the opposition forces need is a NO vote in March to save Alamo taxpayers from bailing out Contra Costa County from bankruptcy.

Fine, someone has a right to do so. Yet for all the complaints Alamo Spotlight and others have made about "who funded the original studies?", shouldn't there be more transparency than this about who is forking out the money to try to get the matter off the ballot?

Then, at the end, there is a non-sensical claim that somehow Alamo is going to bail out Contra Costa county from bankruptcy. Which is it folks -- Alamo is not financially viable, and should rely on the county for funding of things, or Alamo is financially viable, to the extent the County needs Alamo's money to stave off bankruptcy?

If the county is going to go bankrupt without Alamo's piddling $3.4 million, are the residents better off being in their own city, or still completely tied to a now bankrupt county?

Frankly, we'd hoped for better formed arguments against incorporation than this.

Putting it before the voters to decide is a reasonable decision for LAFCO to have made.

This reconsideration is a waste of time, and we'd be better served with substantive discussion of the real issues before the election in March.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Here's the Opposition

Just found, a rallying point for those opposed.

The archives there seem to suggest concern over work at 76 St. Andrews Ln. in 2003 and 2004.

The collected comments are few, and mixed. One says, emphatically, "IF ALAMO IS INCORPORATED BE PREPARED TO ATTEND MEETINGS OR SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES. " OK -- what is wrong with that? How is that different than at the county level?

The proposed "talking points" are:
  • bad financial estimates;
  • "SPECIAL SERVICES, SUCH AS THE ROUND HILL P5, will become regular sheriff services, EVEN THOUGH HIGHER TAXES WILL BE PAID FOR THOSE SERVICES.", which seems like a misrepresentation. As I understand it, the City would have the same obligations.
  • What is the purpose of Incorporation? The answer seems to be to secure local control of the planning process.
  • "interference with PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS, with substantial legal expense to the property owners and the City."
Which seems to get to the heart of the matter -- do the people of the town want to assume the possible additional expenses of its own city administration to secure local, representative control of planning?

There's a Q and A that presents a different slant than those of proponents.
  • Claim there will probably be less policing for the same tax investment;
  • Local planning may require dreaded "low income housing". This seems to be a major misrepresentation, as there are existing obligations under the County General plan. It's an issue already present, just not very visible.
  • Will there really be a surplus? Comparing to LaMorinda, which have had problems because the people chose to make capitol improvements
  • It admits raising taxes would require voter approval, but notes likely demand for services and improvements.
  • A claim that "It is fundamentally true that nothing is 'broke'", which is, of course, a matter of opinion, not demonstrable fact. Your view is likely to depend on what your level of civic involvement may be, and what experience you've had with those interactions.
  • The LaMorinda model is apparent, and you don't want that.
The status quo assumes benign neglect on the part of the County, a laissez faire that doesn't actively promote any significant development, or change, and allows individuals to do what they want with their property.

Further, there is an underlying message that Alamo doesn't want planning, or a way to do planning, because that would enable capitol improvement projects the County would never do. Not having a Town short circuits that by denying the coherency to decide anything locally.

This doesn't pay much credence to the precedent set by some developments that seem unwanted by many people, and the inevitable redevelopment of Alamo Hay and Grain and the Shoe Repair.

Is it realistic to think under the status quo, nothing will change against the wishes of the residents of the town?

Is it realistic to think that under the status quo, if the county has financial problems, they will not result in reduced service to the town?

Would Alamo be better off incorporated or unincorporated if the county went bankrupt?

If the town finances were to suffer some kind of meltdown, why would those of the county be in any better shape?

It seems like the underlying message is that the residents aren't, in the long term, capable of running the town in a way that meets the desires of most people who don't want major change or growth -- That the status-quo is safer and less likely to result in undesirable change than incorporating and taking local control.

LAFCO Passed It, now to the Supes

I'll have a more detailed report later. Feeling the pressure of the calendar, and not feeling that anything new would become available before they would need to decide, LAFCO passed the measure on to the Supervisors to put on the March ballot last night, 4-1.

The informed opposition that emerged seemed focused on these arguments:
  • The economy is tanking, let's wait.
  • The expense projections are significantly understated.
  • Policing expenses, the largest line item, are particularly optimistic, and people will demand more.
  • The AIA has been harder to deal with than the County for building permits.
  • We're happy with the way things are, and like the county government-at-a-distance.
  • Government is waste, and this will add another layer with no added value.
47 people spoke a the public hearing, I'd say split slightly pro, but not by much. There were about 200 attendees at the start, and maybe 100 left at the time of the vote, pushing 9:00.

Media report from here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

LAFCO Hearing 18-Sep, 4:30

ACF says,

Contra Costa LAFCO is having a public hearing at the Creekside Church (1350 Danville Blvd.) on Thursday, September 18 at 4:30.

The most important topic on the agenda is to determine if Alamo will be allowed to vote on incorporation next March. The commission will consider all public input at this meeting, so we'd encourage you to attend, even if you can only stop by for a little while.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Aug 7 meeting came and went

And I was at home nursing a broken shoulder, unable to get down to the meeting.

The Tri-Valley Herald covered it, and found some skepticism:

[Q]uestions, written anonymously on note cards and passed to panel members, centered on the issue of Alamo's solvency.

Residents pointed out the unpredictability of the county and state budgets, and the potential for other unknown factors to affect the community"s ability to govern itself.

"Orinda and Lafayette both had comprehensive fiscal analyses . . . so then why does Orinda now need (millions of dollars) in additional taxes to fix its roads?" one person asked. The question, referring to the city of Orinda's ongoing budgetary problems, drew applause from the crowd.

It is up to individual city councils to "control the costs," said Thompson, who added, "If you don't do that, than over time, yeah, you're going to have some problems."

Some audience members muttered under their breaths, indicating that they hadn't been convinced by Thompson's response.

The argument seems to be that the County is better fiscally managed than a City of Alamo will be, and that problems in Orinda and Lafayette are worse than those we have and will see with the County.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Draft EIR

There are also new LAFCO documents related to environmental impact available:

Written comments on this Negative Declaration and Initial Study will be accepted from Monday, July 28, 2008 through Wednesday, August 27, 2008.

The first is short, one page; the second is an 86 pager.

Starting on page 3, there's a pretty good summary of what the incorporation process is, what steps are mandatory for the new City, and what things can happen only after the City has been formed.

PDF Page 19 has a nice scalable map of the proposed town, marking property boundaries. PDF page 23 has a map of County land use designations, and PDF pages 25 and 27 map zoning.

Key snip:

Although the majority of the incorporation area is located within the County’s adopted Urban Limit Line, it is speculative whether conversion of farmland would occur, or would occur more rapidly, as a result of the proposed incorporation since policies guiding future land use within the Town of Alamo would be addressed through the Town’s General Plan process. Until a new town General Plan is adopted, land use restrictions on the agricultural parcels would be the same as they are today, namely, subject to the terms of the current County General Plan. Consequently, incorporation of these agricultural parcels within the proposed boundary would result in no change.
- page 23

After page 28, it's boilerplate with "no impact" boxes checked.

The documents are also at the Alamo Community Foundation website.

Quicker Step - Aug 7th info meeting

AlamoInc says:

On August 7 at 7:00 p.m., the Alamo Community Foundation will host a community meeting at the Creekside Community Church 1350 Danville Blvd. in Alamo. LAFCO staff and its consultants will be present to provide information and respond to questions. Public input is welcome.

On September 18 at 4:30 p.m., LAFCO will conduct a public hearing at the Creekside Community Church on the proposed incorporation of Alamo. Public input is welcome.

We knew about the one in September, but August 7th is new. I hope some anti's show up with specific questions and complaints.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Next steps Sept 18 and Oct 28

Based on the CFA, AlamoInc says the next steps are:

A LAFCO meeting for public comment is scheduled for September 18 at Creekside Church in Alamo. At this meeting LAFCO will take public comment and is expected to vote on Alamo incorporation. If they vote affirmatively, the Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on October 28 to set an incorporation election date.

If there's opposition, it ought to show up at one of these meetings, or lie quietly until the run-up to an election.

Where are the nay-sayers, and what are they saying?

Financial Analysis Released - "No Worries, Mate!"

The AlamoInc website has put up a copy of the anticipated "Comprehensive Financial Analysis" contracted by LAFCO, and paid for by supporters. It is the official, non-partisan, claimed to be objective report.

No surprise that it thinks the original proposal is fiscally viable. Let's look at some of what it says.

The 106 page report by Winzler and Kelly, of Anaheim, looks at two slightly different boundaries for the proposed town, one as submitted, and another including parts of currently unincorporated Tice Valley; also at two different incorporation dates, June 30 and July 1 2009, which affect some tax deadlines. Including the Tice Valley alternative was LAFCO's idea.

The report concludes that the "no Tice Valley" proposal is feasible with either date, with typical budget surpluses of about $500,000 a year (page 59). It also concludes neither of the proposals including Tice Valley works without "revenue enhancements" (raising taxes somewhere), with a shortfall of $500,000 in year 10 (page 84).

Notably, under either proposal, the budget balance starts OK, and deteriorates over time. Under the baseline proposal, it never turns to deficit, but the surplus bottoms out around $322,000 in years 9 and 10.

All the flavors of proposal are for a "contract city", where services like Police are contracted out to, for example, the Sheriff or the Walnut Creek Police instead of having departments created that are solely for the town. This results in some organizational economies.

The report does not anticipate much further development, though there may be improvement.

The Alamo community is essentially a built out community with limited ongoing residential development, and little to no new retail or commercial development. The only development activity occurring within the community is confined to lot splits for 2nd residential units, remodels, expansions, and replacements of existing residential units. Some infill commercial has occurred recently. It is anticipated that this type of upgrading of the residential component of the community will continue over time, however, no major new residential or commercial development will occur as there is little remaining available land within the proposed incorporation boundaries. Projected new residential development is anticipated in the CFA to average approximately 25 units annually
page 13

I think this appropriately understates the prospects of commercial redevelopment/improvement, because the town is likely to be resistant to major changes. That is, no major Mall to replace Alamo Plaza, or a Ritz-Carlton to replace Alamo Hay and Grain.

Capital Improvements
The report does not anticipate major capital projects that are not funded with new revenue measures. It assumes repairs will be done on an as-needed, as-funds-available basis, consistent with current practice under the county. There is existing revenue in various tax measures for road repairs (Measures C and J).

Revenue Neutrality to the County
Under law, the split is to be "revenue neutral" to the County, though the term is ill-defined. The proposal includes "mitigation" to the tune of perhaps $3 million (page 44).

No New Taxes
Under law, the incorporation is to be done with no new taxes, and the report assumes that for planning purposes. The Prop 13 appropriations limits for the proposal is about $8.6 million, and including Tice Valley would be about $10 million.

City Staffing
Under the "contract city" structure, the report anticipates a city staff of ten "full time equivalents".

One of the big differences between the proposals is that policing the base proposal would cost about $2.7 million a year, while including Tice Valley would cost $3.3 million.

The new City of Alamo looks better off financially than Clayton and Moraga, about the same as Lafayette, not as good as Orinda, and considerably worse than San Anselmo and American Canyon, on the basis of costs/revenue.

Then there are 50 pages of tables and numbers to stare at.

We Think...

Fact-based opposition will argue the numbers in a policy-wonk way. Emotional opposition will seize on some flash-point issue and suggest that should be a reason to leave the status-quo.

For example, one might now flame fears about various energy costs and general inflation, and say those are budget busters that will cripple the city. Left unaddressed with that argument is how things would be better with the County under the same pressures. With increased energy costs, the status-quo doesn't remain the same for either organizational alternative.

The bottom line to us seems to be, down the road, is Alamo better off with decisions being made by the County staff and the County Supervisors, or locally elected representation?

As for the boundary issue, I don't care much about Tice Valley -- but if I'm redrawing a map, maybe I go to war with Danville over what city really should have the Alamo Cemetary. It just seems wrong for it to be in the other town, don't you think?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

It's called Alamo

The CC Times this morning reported on an accident today as follows:
Bicyclist injured in hit-and-run accidentBay City News Service

The California Highway Patrol was en route just after noon today to an accident involving a bicyclist who was hit by a vehicle northwest of Danville in unincorporated Contra Costa County.

The hit-and-run accident occurred at about 11:50 a.m. on Danville Boulevard at Via Don Jose.

The bicyclist reportedly has a severe head injury, according to the CHP.

[emphasis added]

Via Don Jose is just North of downtown, between Stone Valley and Livorna. There couldn't be a more "Alamo" location. Thanks CC Times!

The report also makes me hope the guy pulls through OK, and to wonder what really happened. Was it North or Southbound? Northbound riders and drivers are just starting to relax after getting through downtown. Southbound drivers are supposed to be slowing down for the new 25 mph zone, and cyclists are unfurling their "city traffic" antennae, because things are about to be crazy.

It also reminds me to carry ID when I'm out biking.

I've never much liked the Blvd as a cycling route despite the evident popularity. It's too flat, has too many stop lights, and too much traffic which is always unpredictable. The Valley Blvd not a pleasant bike ride until you get South of Stoneridge in Dublin, and we will not speak of Walnut Creek to the North.

I still have no idea what is going on with the bike lane Northbound at Oak Tree Plaza where it goes from two to one lane, and the repaving by the County a few years ago made the bike lane much rougher than it was before. It smooths out remarkably at the Danville border.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


A number of people in the media have contacted me in search of opposition to incorporation, in an attempt to balance their stories. I've told them all I'm in the same boat, looking for someone who will go on record to make a case against.

Nobody has found one yet.

This does not mean there is no real opposition. The kind of opposition that should be feared is the kind that has a lot of money, and specializes in last-minute "hit-piece" mailings with no opportunity for discussion. For example, there could be a flood of postcards sent in the week before an election making all kinds of dubious if not outright misleading statements. Those involved in the public debate might have no opportunity to rebut falsehood, and those sending such mail would have purposely hidden their existence and specifics of their objections in the run-up. Indeed, the true motivations might easily remain completely hidden. They can throw out specious flash-point arguments to make a stink. This isn't what I'd call credible, but it can, sadly, be very effective.

If I am thinking about who might produce this kind of effective opposition, completely within constitutional rights to participate in a political process, there are very few possibilities. They include those with (a) access to money; (b) a perception of financial threat from incorporation; (c) a willingness to throw (a) against (b) to achive a more favorable result.

The bottom line, to me, seems to be control of development and re-development. Therefore, those with threatened financial interests are property owners and developers who see risk to their investments, or limits on their opportunities being imposed. Those owners and developers who would have enough at risk in Alamo would be owners of -large- parcels, and those who'd want to develop those large parcels.

Identifying potential opposition seems as simple as looking at a tax-map and seeing who owns or controls large property whose development opportunity might be restricted by the Town, perhaps through a new general plan. There aren't that many large undeveloped parcels in town.

I don't know if the people involved with in-fill (re-)development would feel as motivated to nudge the political process their way through funding of hit-piece mail. They might vote against incorporation, but I don't know that they'd pay for an operation to significantly affect the result.

AlamoInc FAQ

The Alamo INC website has a "frequently asked questions" (FAQ) page that seems to has some answers that seem a little off to me. Some are offering more reassurance than I think can honestly be provided, and some others are trying to provide facts that talk around rather than directly to some mal-formed questoins.

In the interest of dialog, here are some of those points:

Frequently asked questions about incorporation

Question: Will incorporation raise my taxes?

Response: No. California state law prohibits any incorporation from raising taxes to balance the books. Any future tax increase or tax cut requires a vote by Alamo residents, with a 2/3 majority in most cases. A city council cannot, solely on its own action, impose or raise taxes.

Me: "No" is overstated. The real answer is "probably not", for the reasons given.

Question: Are there enough sales taxes to support a Town of Alamo?

Response: Yes. The comprehensive Initial Fiscal Analysis, available for review on our website at, lays out in detail the sources of tax revenues for the Town of Alamo. 35% of the expected revenues will come from your property taxes, and 19% will come from Vehicle License Fees (VLF). VLF revenue is not available to either Alamo or the County today – it is reserved for incorporated cities, and the only way Alamo can take advantage of the substantial fees we pay on our vehicles is if we incorporate. Sales tax ranks third at 11% or around $1 million – significant but far from the major source. The balance comes from parks, gas/road, police and other taxes – taxes Alamo residents already pay today.

Me: "Probably" is more like it than a flat "Yes." AlamoINC thinks so based on the Initial Fiscal Analysis, but this still needs to be examined in more detail.

Question: I understand incorporation is expensive. What are the expected costs and who pays them?

Response: The cost will be about $250,000. Neither the State nor County will pay for this so this amount has to be raised by Alamo residents. The principal components of the expense are about $90,000 for a Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis, prepared by outside consultants, a Metes and Bounds (surveyed boundaries) project for about $60,000, an environmental review for about $25,000 and so on. These costs do not include the cost of an election campaign in late 2008/ early 2009, likely to require another $50,000. Alamo is an affluent community so we should be able to raise this amount of money.

Me: If AlamoINC doesn't raise it, it won't happen. With either result (yes or no) there is no taxpayer liability, so this shouldn't affect anyone's decision one way or the other.

Question: I'm concerned that incorporation will bring sidewalks and city lighting to our community and change its character.

Response: There's no reason to be concerned. The whole purpose of incorporation is to give us – Alamo residents and voters – control over how Alamo changes and develops. All communities change, but our best chance of keeping Alamo the town we love is to take control through incorporation. None of our plans and suggestions would change the character of Alamo – in fact, preserving its character is one of our most fundamental goals in incorporation. Alamo's future should be decided in Alamo, not in Martinez.

Me: Of course there is reason to be concerned! This is one of the key issues!!! That is why people had better vote in the elections!

Choosing words carefully, while the county is unlikely to mandate things out of thin air, it is less unlikely to happen in a Town of Alamo. My guess is the officials who voted for such a thing would be run out of town on a rail, but it seems more likely to happen in a town than the county.

The same thing is true of permit reviews and other critical matters.

Question: Won't this increase bureaucracy?

Response:Response: - Not at all - the County employs over 9,000 staff. Decision making will be simplified by transferring both tax revenues and the responsibility for services to the Town of Alamo: decisions will be made locally. If Alamo voters don't like the result, they can vote out the entire council. Today, our votes affect neither the County nor Alamo - we are effectively disenfranchised.

Me: "Not at all" is flippant, and arguably flat wrong. The right answer is probably "Maybe, depending on how you look at it." The answer is reliant on a value judgements about whether the county bureaucracy is efficient, and whether the one Alamo puts in place as an an alternative is worse, better, or just more of the same.

Question submitted from the website:
I would like some specific vision, value, and strategy. Can you give me several specific goals, or plans? Nothing generic please. What would be done Better, Cheaper, Faster, and what would be done that isn't done Now?

I am looking for something more like a quantifiable platform. We citizens are being asked to redirect our tax based investment in Alamo from the County which has a long track record of at least some success, to something we can't see or talk to before transferring all the money to it. I don't like playing roulette when I can't even see the table.

What would be done Better:
Police services would be combined in one Town of Alamo Police Department responsible for both crime suppression and traffic enforcement. Now, responsibility for policing rests with the sheriff and traffic enforcement is legally the responsibility of the California Highway Patrol, which means very little enforcement is done other than on the freeway. The Town of Alamo Police Department will have regular patrols and will know the town intimately, which will discourage some of the vandalism and the smash and grab car robberies in Alamo. Since traffic stops are also a crime deterrent (for example, a traffic stop may result in a drug bust or a DUI), it is more efficient and effective to have law enforcement combined into one local agency.

Alamo's share of road taxes will come to Alamo and can only be spent in Alamo on Alamo roads. The county is not required to spend road taxes in Alamo but must pay attention to countywide priorities. In past years, these priorities have sometimes conflicted with Alamo needs in lean budget years.

Alamo is now obligated to function under the general plan created for us by the county. Under cityhood we would have the opportunity to create and adopt our own general plan specific to our goals and objectives, as the writer wishes. The process of general plan development would be highly interactive and would involve any citizens who are interested. However, by law, it can only commence post-incorporation.

What would be done Cheaper:
Alamo citizens pay taxes into county service area R-7A for parks and recreation development and services. The county charges R-7A significant sums for overhead and administration, including staff and travel time for a staffer to travel to Alamo to attend advisory committee meetings. The same is true for Alamo's Zone 36, the Alamo Beautification Committee, whose budget is eaten up with county administrative charges. A new Town of Alamo will have significantly reduced overhead charges for our parks and beautification committees since the Town will not be responsible for the lifetime health benefits the county is obligated to pay its retirees.

What would be done Faster:
The county has been discussing traffic improvements on Danville Boulevard for twenty years. Common sense tells us that when only Alamo citizens are involved in the discussions, and those citizens are driving on the Boulevard every day, that traffic problems will be addressed in a shorter time frame.

There are many other examples of the efficiencies of dealing with local people and making local choices.

In passing, please note that after incorporation, we will be a far cry from transferring "all the money" to the new town. We will continue to pay our fair share of taxes to run the county, to pay for fire protection, schools, police protection, etc. Please refer to the article on the website, "How the new Town of Alamo will use your tax dollars" which provides details on projected expenditures.

Me: Remember, AlamoINC isn't putting a platform together about how to actually run things, it is trying to create a local framework for making decisions about how to do run things. Asking for the equivalent of a "party platform" isn't in the scope. The real answer to all such questions ought to be, "it will be a democracy based on the will of the voters in the town."

I don't get the impression there is uniform opinion on many matters within the generally pr0-invorporation crowd, so generalization is impossible. For one particularly tender topic, there are folks who have been on radically opposite ends of the debate about the YMCA at Hap Magee who are pro-incorporation.

Comment submitted from the website:
We lived in Moraga for 24 years and watched them incorporate. That added more layers of bureaucracy and taxes. Go look at how they spent their money and evaluate the terrible condition of their and Orinda's roads. We would not want to see Alamo go that route.

Reduced Layers of Bureaucracy
One benefit of incorporation would be that a number of government functions would transfer from the County to the Town of Alamo. The result would be that Alamo residents would have more input and influence in the local decisions that directly affect us.

No New Taxes
California state law forbids taxes from being raised to "balance the books" for incorporation. The new town must be able to pay its own way over the long term using existing revenues. California law also requires that all tax increases be submitted to the voters - the town council will not have the power to raise taxes.

Road Maintenance is in the Plan
A Public Services Plan was developed to assess the feasibility of incorporation. This is presented in Chapter IV of the Initial Feasibility Study which states in part, " The IFA assumes an approximate $5,800 per road mile maintenance cost for repair and maintenance of pavement, hardscape repairs, drainage, and traffic signals, based on data from other comparable cities. An additional $1,700 per mile is also included for administration and related costs, based on the County budget."

Me: The response doesn't seem to really answer the questions, because a real answer would have to challenge the premises. (1) Do Moraga residents pay more taxes now than they would have had it not Incorporated? (I don't know the answer, but I tend to doubt it. Perceptions and reality in this area seem likely to be quite different); (2) How terrible are Orinda roads compared to those in unincorporated county with similar traffic density? Objective measures only, not just anecdote; (3) How is Orinda/Moraga spending tax money that is inappropriate? (4) For each thing offered in answer to (3), did the voters approve it, and if so, what is the complaint?

Oh yeah

There's been a little progress, mainly a meeting on April 8th that I missed by the pro's. I've still not seen or found anything like a credible opposition, which doesn't mean there isn't one lurking.

I presume the meeting on the 8th went over some of the things discussed in the front-page article at that might be linked to here on their web-site, being a reprint of something that got run in Alamo Today, by Dave Dolter. Since links there are flakey, here it is in totality:

What Are the Governance Requirements for the Town of Alamo?

Alamo Today -- April 2008
Dave Dolter, Alamo Incorporation Movement

The requirements for organizing a city (or town) are found in the California State Constitution and in state statutes, particularly the Government Code. Unlike counties, which are legal subdivisions of the state, California cities are municipal corporations. There are three types of cities:

  • General law cities – organized under state law, which describes their powers and specifies their structure.
  • Charter cities – are organized under a specific charter describing the powers and organization the city will adopt, approved by a vote of the citizens of the city
  • Combined City and County – San Francisco, the only one, is a charter city/county.

State law requires Alamo to incorporate as a general law city, and the law provides wide leeway in how general law cities organize themselves. Many small and medium sized general law cities are contract cities and these cities contract for a wide variety of municipal services. Alamo will be a contract city initially and likely for many years following incorporation.

The government of a general law city is vested in:
  • A city council of at least five members
  • A city clerk
  • A city treasurer
  • A chief of police
  • Any other subordinate officers or employees provided by law

The Alamo Incorporation Movement application to LAFCO (the Local Agency Formation Commission responsible under state law for incorporations) requested that Alamo have five council members elected at-large, i.e., elected by all registered Alamo voters. To comply with the requirements for other officers, the Town Council will need to adopt an ordinance providing for the Council-Manager form of government where the Council appoints a professionally trained city manager to manage the daily affairs of the Town. The city manager would also appoint any other of the above officers designated by the Town Council, typically the city clerk. Since the provision of police services will initially be provided by contract, the police chief will be the contract police officer in charge. Likewise, the city treasurer may be appointed by the city manager and in small communities, the finance director may fill this role as well. The city manager would also select and appoint other department heads and employees, such as his or her assistant, the planning/community development director, city engineer/ director of public works, etc.

In many general law cities, the positions of city clerk and/or city treasurer are elected officials. The Council could also choose to appoint them instead of the city manager Post-incorporation, these positions could be made elective if voters approve a ballot measure to do so.

Every city has a city attorney although state law does not require one. A city attorney is typically the other direct appointee of the Town Council (in addition to the city manager). Typically a small community would contract for these legal services with law firms that specialize in municipal law.

One of the compelling reasons for incorporation is for Alamo citizens to influence land use planning and development directly. State law dictates that there must be a planning agency for these purposes. State law also requires the council to adopt an ordinance assigning the functions of this planning agency to a planning department, one or more planning commissions, administrative bodies or hearing officers, the council itself, or any combination it deems appropriate and necessary.

To assure community involvement, cities typically provide for a planning commission of five to seven members to advise the council on such matters. Indeed, the council cannot act on many planning matters until it receives a recommendation from the planning commission. For example, in many cities, the planning commission has final approval of subdivision maps (unless appealed to the council).

In Alamo, this commission will have important initial duties including crafting and recommending a new general plan (required by law), a new zoning ordinance to implement the new general plan (also required by law) a new subdivision ordinance (required by state law) and other duties as referred to it by the council.

No other commissions are required by law. However, active citizen participation in local government is vital. To this end, councils typically create advisory committees and commissions to help with city governance. Members serve without compensation except for reimbursement of approved business expenses. Where appropriate, youth representatives may also be appointed.

In Alamo's case, the creation of these advisory bodies will be at the discretion of the elected Alamo Town Council. However, the council will be receptive to the desires of Alamo residents. Merely as a guideline, the following is a list of the committees and commissions established by our neighboring communities. Note that these entities were created over a period of many years - Alamo would need to start small and assess our local needs over time.

Arts Commission
Parks and Leisure Services Commission
Heritage Resource Commission
Planning Commission
Design Review Board

San Ramon:
Architectural Review Board
Arts Advisory Committee
Building Inspection Board of Appeals
Community Cable TV - Board of Directors
Economic Development Advisory Committee
Finance Committee
Housing Advisory Committee
Library Advisory Committee
Open Space & Conservation Advisory Committee
Parks & Community Services Commission
Planning Commission
Policy Committee of the City Council
Redevelopment Agency
San Ramon Valley Regional Planning Commission
Senior Citizen Advisory Committee
Teen Council
Transportation Advisory Committee
Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Advisory Committee
Tri-Valley Transportation Council (TVTC)

Walnut Creek:
Arts Commission
Design Review Commission
Park, Recreation & Open Space
Planning Commission
Transportation Commission
Zoning Administrator
Bedford Gallery Advisory Council
Bicycle Advisory Committee
Civic Arts Education Advisory Council
Golf Course Advisory Committee

Crime Prevention
Design Review
Emergency Preparation
Parks, Trails & Recreation
Planning Commission
Senior Services
Youth Services
Committees & Task Forces

I think we've been over most of this other posts here. In particular, this seems to stick a fork in the idea that there is some kind of "contracted services municipality" that is not described by the term "General City".

In one semi-amusing note, I got hate mail from Google complaining that my ads for this site used a forbidden trademark term: "alamo". I presume this is the rental car company. After I asked if this was a DMCA takedown notice (which they did not say), and I volunteered to file a counter-notice, the issue was considered "resolved". They never admitted they made a mistake.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Rabbit Hole

I had coffee with some folks the other day, and it raised some explicit questions that had been bouncing in the back of my mind for a while.

How real are these "Alamo Neighborhoods" and the people purportedly engaged in their secret existence?

All the information I have on them comes from email, and is unverifiable. There's no web presence that has any traceability, and no one has been willing to meet me.

I've asked before for direct contact by anyone involved, and not gotten any actionable response. Let me repeat, I'd like someone involved in the "Alamo Neighborhoods" to contact me personally -- particularly someone in my Livorna "Greater Miranda" neighborhood.

I promise confidentiality until a subpoena arrives, at which point you're on your own.

In specifics, I'd like

(1) to be shown on a map what the proposed boundaries were for the proposal that the "Neighborhoods" were supposedly working on in confidence;

(2) specific examples of California "contracted service municipalities" they propose Alamo use as a model;

(3) an explanation of why a "contracted service municipality" isn't an outcome that could arise from the current effort if that is what the eventually elected council puts before the voters.

Maybe I'd like the other boundaries better than the ones AIM came up with. Maybe I'll understand something about this C-S-M business that has so far eluded me.

There's a chance, though, that this "Neighborhood" thing is something of an elaborate jest.

I remain looking for credible opposition that has something specific it is willing to discuss in public.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


For reasons that are as yet opaque, Hal Bailey has severed connections with the "neighborhoods". He'd been passing on comments from the e-chains to the Danville Weekly forums, but that has stopped, and he sent interested parties some email announcing the separation. There's almost certainly a story that has not been told there.

(It seems to have happened after the "Don't believe everything you read" thing happened at DW.)

Lately, "Lisa Wright" (identities being slippery at DW, apparently) has posted at DW that we should fix the county, somehow. There's an "e-campaign" being started to Do Something. A hint: e-anything doesn't do much good by itself, especially when conducted behind a curtain.

Given a fraction of the votes that put Mary N. Piepho in office, I'm not sure I see any way ofor Alamo residents to do anything about the County. Maybe if someone wants to pour a boatload of money into the politics some way, but not by votes alone.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Application

Over the weekend, we came upon complaints that the application as filed hadn't been seen.

Thinking this was easy to resolve, this morning I asked for and received a FAXed copy from LAFCO, but haven't had time to scan and post it myself.

This afternoon, I got email saying the application is now on the AIM website, along with a step-by-step of the process. That saves me the trouble of the scan and post, so, "Thanks!"

Haven't had time to read it yet. It will probably answer some questions, and raise others.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Media notice of "Silence" complaint

The Danville Weekly ran a story about the "silence" complaints made against AIM, with quotes from Kenber/AIM, and "no comments" from some of the vocal complainers.

The comments to the story say Kenber was self-serving, and that AIM is a "sick failure".

Well, of course he was self serving. He's a partisan, and it's to be expected. Duh.

At least, I think I understand what he is advocating, with many details not-painted because it's not possible to do that until later.

I don't understand at all what the "neighborhoods" are advocating, though they seem convinced AIM is wrong.

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: