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By Tim Hunt

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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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A different approach to candidates' forums

Uploaded: Nov 1, 2016
Among the flood of letters to the editor in the papers have been a few discussing the Oct. 13 candidates’ forum (Tri-Valley @ a Crossroads) at the Firehouse theater that was sponsored by citizens’ groups in the three cities.
Two are overtly anti-growth, Pleasanton Voters and Dubliners for Change, while the Friends of Livermore—the master money laundering group for its City Council candidates—was the third sponsor. The Livermore Independent underwrote the forum.
Interestingly, the Independent already had printed its Pleasanton endorsements (Sept. 29 and Oct. 6) for Councilwoman Karla Brown and mayoral candidate Julie Testa before the forum. In the case of the forums held by both the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce and the Pleasanton Weekly, endorsements were not published until after the events were held.
It makes it rather challenging to hold a neutral forum while the sponsors already have stated their preferences. That said, the Independent’s recommended candidates are exactly as would be expected based upon the long history of the newspaper.
And getting Juliette Goodrich of KPIX (CBS 5) to moderate added credibility. Juliette is a long-time resident here and grew up in Pleasanton—I have no clue about her local politics.
The forum drew all the Livermore candidates plus all the Dublin candidates with the exception of Mayor David Haubert. Three Pleasanton candidates, Mayor Jerry Thorne, Councilman Jerry Pentin and Planning Commission Chairman Herb Ritter, did not attend. Brown and Testa were there.
Kelly Cousins, president of Pleasanton Voters, wrote a letter to the Independent that implied that she had tried to accommodate the schedules of those who missed the forum. As the organizer of the bi-annual Pleasanton Gardens candidate forum, I can attest to the challenges to coordinating schedules—that’s why we contact candidates in the week after campaign filings close to announce our date.
I reached out to all three Pleasanton candidates who were contacted by Cousins. All three had previously scheduled campaign events on Oct. 13 and said they decided to stick with their announced plans instead of cancelling to attend the new forum.
I also emailed Julie about why she did not take part in the Pleasanton chamber’s forum. She wrote she had planned to attend, but had a “personal crisis” that demanded her attention that morning. She reached out to chamber CEO Scott Raty later that day to apologize.
It is also notable how Pleasanton Voters mixes up its credentials, claiming on its website to be non-partisan and then stating its “goal of educating Pleasanton voters about the new and massive development projects.” Maybe the non-partisan refers to no political party, but the intent is clear.
Candidate Karla Brown and Cousins’ group also share the same email list—no crime…I suspect Friends of Livermore merges lists with its selected candidates…but it again calls non-partisan into question.
One of Karla’s recent emails contained her survey on issues in Pleasanton—a questionnaire designed to extract exactly the answers she wanted.
It’s curiously that Julie, Karla and Kelly argue things are so wrong in Pleasanton yet the city’s professionally designed and administered poll shows approval ratings of more than 90 percent on quality of life in Pleasanton.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by SHale, a resident of San Ramon,
on Nov 1, 2016 at 11:31 am

SHale is a registered user.

Hum, actually if you only read the users' comments here most of population in Pleasanton is very very very unhappy. I mean they write hourly how unhappy they are with everything.

Just mention 'Costco' and boom. The sky is falling, the sky is falling. funny thing is the user forums here do no represent the population. Just look at the Lund Ranch kerfuffle last election...... Forums here DON'T BUILD, voters BUILD......

Posted by Seriously?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Nov 1, 2016 at 3:18 pm

Seriously? is a registered user.

Another great post by Tim Hunt!

Posted by Loves logic, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Nov 1, 2016 at 4:04 pm

Again another great blog! Thank you for the analysis and for the thoughtful input. There is no doubt that Karla Brown and Julie Testa are closely tied to the (non partisan?) Pleasanton voters group and their forum scheduled at a time the best candidates already had booked engagements. SMH. The independent news group endorsing Pleasanton candidates is not something I would pay attention to - after all it is a Livermore paper.

Posted by Sue, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Nov 1, 2016 at 6:31 pm

Guess the City of Pleasanton 2015 Community Survey is hidden somewhere on the City site. I did find a summary right at the top but it is written by the City which is not exactly the same as the actual survey. The real survey says that 72% find Pleasanton an Excellent Place to live. That means the rest have different opinions. The major issue is the 24% who voted that Growth and Development (Too much) is their major concern followed by 14% saying water shortage and 9 % saying education/public schools and 8% saying traffic on our streets the major problems. We currently have 5 schools that are impacted (can't take any more students) Harvest Park, Amador High School, Walnut Grove, Fairlands and Donlan elementary. How satisfying is that?

Karla Brown attended the Chamber of Commerce Forum and the Pleasanton Weekly forum, with her voting record that is enough to make an endorsement. Jerry Thorne's ties to the development community and voting record plus his responses at the Chamber and Pleasanton Weekly forums should be enough to disqualify him from endorsement by the Independent. The Independent is a well respected news vehicle which provides Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton news .....areas that affect all of us. We don't live in a vacuum.

Posted by A Rain Dog, a resident of Old Towne,
on Nov 1, 2016 at 10:08 pm

SHale - unfortunately many voters are uninformed and short-sighted

I've lived in Pleasanton for 20 years..most of the longtime residents I know are very concerned about growth and development

And just to help out the author of the blog:

It is possible to a) love the city, and b) be concerned about the current direction of the city and it's impact on FUTURE quality of life. They're not mutually exclusive.

Once we have the Costco I'm sure the very professional poll will jump to 95% approval. Yay!

Posted by Ann, a resident of Danbury Park,
on Nov 2, 2016 at 2:39 pm

I went to both of the Pleasanton Voters sponsored forums, the Tri-Valley City Council Candidate Forum at the Firehouse and a second one at the Library for the School Board Candidates and found them to be very informative. All of the School Board Candidates made the Forum even though one had to catch a plane that night. I was sorry not to see all the City Council Candidates from Pleasanton attend since all the other City Council candidates from Livermore and Dublin made it to the Forum. For those people who didn't make it to the well attended forums you can go the the www.PleasantonVoters.com website and click on the "Forums" for the YouTube videos from both Forums. I think most people would prefer to see the video of the Forums rather than read the conjecture and misinformation made by Mr. Hunt on his blog. Julie Testa and Karla Brown did a great job of answering the community's questions about growth and other concerns. Thank you, Pleasanton Voters and the Pleasanton Community for seeing through this political "smokescreen" blog and some candidate's missed opportunity to address a growing number of concerns by our residents.

Posted by Remember, a resident of Foothill High School,
on Nov 2, 2016 at 7:05 pm

When Pleasanton begins to look more and more like those cities on the other side of the hills, and all our useless space has dissappeared, and we are no longer offended with views of the hills, and traffic chokes the roads, and our pockets are stuffed with the money acquired by these wise tradeoffs - what then? Are we done?

Welcome Costco ! Looking forward to saving a couple of bucks on tp !

Posted by Glenn, a resident of Las Positas,
on Nov 2, 2016 at 7:37 pm

This post by Tim sadly illustrates the subterranean thinking of a person beholden to bias and singular views. Instead of recognizing that community forums for political candidates sponsored by grass roots efforts upholds the ideals of democracy and affirms the foundation upon which our country was founded he snidely tries to deride the forum organizers with his version of the so-called back-story . Would it not be better for a local community newspaper to not sponsor a smug weekly blogger with a self-appointed sense of importance who misses the very point of open community forums? Tim's use of the term "non-partisan" in attempt to discredit a forum sponsor additionally displays his lack of political knowledge and belies his veneer of "expose" neutrality. In the political arena "non-partisan" means a person or group is not oriented or swayed by any particular "party" affiliation. A person or group can endorse a candidate or issue based upon the merits and not be partisan. Tim, re-think your bias. It undermines your credibility. You can do better.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills,
on Nov 3, 2016 at 9:35 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Tim, I spoke to a council member who said the survey is conducted over the phone of a "representative group" of residents. Understanding that representative means they are trying to reach about 500 people in a variety of predetermined criteria, it is still only 500 people. So, I wonder what the results would be if a survey was mailed to every household or put up online for all citizens to respond (I think there are ways to prevent one person filling out the survey multiple times). It just seems you can call 500 and still manage to skew the results to those 72% that are satisfied even if it is unintended. If the forums were flawed, you should mention so is the method for the survey. We should all get a chance to respond so our council isn't surprised by our reactions--think Costco.

Posted by Mobile Home Loving Senior, a resident of Vineyard Avenue,
on Nov 3, 2016 at 10:23 am

I live in the Hacienda Mobile home park on Vineyard Ave. We held a forum and invited both Mobile Home parks to a candidate forum on October 18th to talk about growth in the area and concerns at the park. Just like PleasantonVoters, we moved the date from the original date to accommodate the 3 Pleasanton City council candidates and the 2 mayor candidates.

We know people are busy but candidates that are told weeks ahead of time should prioritize a public event held by voters in their town.

That night we had a nice discussion with Karla Brown, Julie Testa and Mayor Thorne. The other two candidates Jerry Pentin and Herb Ritter said they were too busy to come. I think they did not want to come because we were going to talk about slowing down growth in our area of town and since they are pro-growth, we do not matter to them. Pentin and Ritter are not getting my vote or anyone else I talk to.

Posted by res1, a resident of Vineyard Hills,
on Nov 3, 2016 at 11:04 am

The forum was in Pleasanton and all the candidates from Dublin and Livermore attended but from Pleasanton neither Thorn, Pentin or Ritter attended. Sounds like they were avoiding a forum that had some emphasis on growth concerns from the communities.

I applaud this group working to get candidates from three cities together. That is a lot of work.

I don't understand how Tim can say the forum was biased but the Chamber of Commerce is not. The chamber had already made its endorsement prior to the forum. They might not have made a press release of it but they were already campaigning for the candidates they support and scheduled a meet and greet of their selected candidates. Tim. you have been out there supporting more development in Pleasanton over the decades so we know you have a bias also, running the Pleasanton Gardens forum.

Posted by Tired of the Baloney , a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Nov 3, 2016 at 4:51 pm

Tim, You seem to think it is wrong for an organization to address growth issues... Meanwhile the #1 concern of residents in a "professionally designed" poll by the city was "Too much Growth". Meanwhile, if any organization is biased it is the developer dominated Chamber of Commerce which is basically financing and calling the shots for pro-growth candidates Pentin and Riter.

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