Your column of April 23 ("If it's Tuesday, it must be another Oak Grove debate") raises interesting questions about free speech, democracy, the role of money in politics. Pleasanton has a long history of citizen participation in the decision-making process, as well as with developer-friendly City Councils. This combination has often resulted in voter referenda and initiatives put forth by a citizenry that feels their interests have not been represented by those in political power. Since grassroots campaigns cannot match the well-funded efforts of deep-pocketed developers, our citizens traditionally have used various means to reach the voters: the farmers market, walking neighborhoods, and yes, even speaking at City Council meetings. I find it surprising that a newspaper, normally considered a defender of free speech and democracy, would criticize the public for actively exercising these rights.
The developer advantage of money goes beyond the election itself. Business and development interests in Pleasanton have spent tens of thousands of dollars in City Council campaign contributions in recent years, and it is appropriate for citizens to question how this money might influence public policy - even if it makes council members "squirm in their seats." Instead of speculating who has received Oak Grove developer "blood money," you can easily find out by going to the city campaign reports website at www.netfile.com/agency/cop/.
Special interest money corrupts representative democracy - whether in Washington, D.C., or in Pleasanton. If you take your responsibility as a guardian of democracy seriously this should be the subject of your next column.