Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - April 30, 2010

Letter: Citizens should speak out

Dear Editor,

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

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.

Matt Sullivan Matt Sullivan is a member of the Pleasanton City Council


Posted by Jon Harvey, a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Apr 30, 2010 at 1:08 pm


I don't believe the Pleasanton Weekly is posturing against free speech. The way I read it they are saying "we get it, now will you move on" and "please be civil."

You may not mind hearing your side over and over, but you must have some level of sensitivity for why someone might have the Weekly's opinion other than to attack free speech. Anyone who reads the Weekly editorials/letters or watches City Council meetings likely understands the positions of the developer and the grassroots folks.

The Pleasanton Weekly probably wants something new to write about.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 30, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

The online campaign contribution data only goes back to November 2008. Who donated to Sullivan's campaigns prior to 2008?

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Good question. All of them are on file at the city clerk's office. In the past Cindy McGovern, Kay Ayala, and Steve Brozosky all took money from the same developer. Often the developers will donate to all candidates. Sometimes when someone says they did not get any money it is because none was offered.

How many people who have a vested interest in protecting their backyard view donated to Sullivan? Isn't that a special interest too. Keeping publicly accessible land away from other Pleasanton residents is nimbyism.

Posted by Jon Harvey, a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Apr 30, 2010 at 9:31 pm


I reject the whole argument. None of the people you listed have demonstrated any bias toward a developer or any other campaign contributor. That argument which is being used against the mayor is just as misplaced.

It is just a smear tactic, and a really lame and desperate argument IMHO. Those who accuse our council members of being bought aren't getting the traction they would like out of analysis and reason (or they are not even trying). We can disagree with any of their decisions and back it up with bona fide reasons all day long without needing to stoop to that level.


Posted by justwondering, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 1, 2010 at 8:44 am

Jon, thanks for bringing the debate back to the merits of the proposal. Question, are houses really going to be built on the ridge shown in the ad for No on D or is that the ridge the City is going to be given?

Posted by Jon Harvey, a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on May 1, 2010 at 11:47 am


That is a good ad in the sense that it is generally accurate. There will be some homes on that ridge. "40 mansions atop this two mile ridge" is probably a stretch. The vast majority of what is in the picture will be part of the preserved land. Very few homes (mine is one of them) have a view similar to that photo. Not a single home anywhere in Pleasanton has the view shown in the photo. I think the photo was taken from somewhere on the property or atop a nearby hill.

It should be noted that the southeast hills are not all that prominent, unlike the Pleasanton Ridge to the west and the hills in Dublin to the north. Most anywhere you stand in town, you can't see the southeast hills. Sure, you can seek out spots where the hills can be seen but you would need binoculars to differentiate which homes are in which neighborhoods. I don't believe there is any spot anywhere where you will be able to see 40 homes.

All that said, it's a good ad even it is an exageration of reality. (exageration is what campaigns are made of)


Posted by sknywench, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 3, 2010 at 12:50 pm

sknywench is a registered user.

When will Matt Sullivan just move to Berkeley, please!!!!!!!!!! "Oak Grove developer blood money . . . " as he is quoted. C'mon, he voted to approve the Project. And I believe that is the ONLY development project he has EVER voted YES. Oh, except for the 300-unit TOD apartment at the new Dublin BART (next to the Mall)which he supports. Wow, putting peoples' homes next to a freeway and BART station so they wont actually drive into P-Town and mix with the good people. And that is because he is sooooo committed to green causes and reducing carbon footprints. Yeah, right. I understand he drives daily all the way into downtown San Francisco where his office is located. Someone please start a RECALL.

Posted by Jon HArvey, a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on May 3, 2010 at 2:50 pm

I am really not in the business of defending Matt Sullivan these days, but I ride BART relatively infrequently had have run into him a number of times on his BART commute into SF. He is indeed pretty committed to reducing carbon, but he often gets too distracted with the process (as he did in Oak Grove). Now we have years of process down the drain and lawsuits, campaign signs, open mic, etc. to enjoy.


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