Editorial | August 1, 2008 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |


Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - August 1, 2008


Keep partisan politics out of Pleasanton

With a number of candidates for mayor and City Council campaigning in support of actions being advanced by the Save Pleasanton's Hills coalition, it's fair to ask if this new citizens' group could become a major political force in Pleasanton. It wouldn't be the first time that a political team put together a partisan ticket in Pleasanton, which generally favors non-partisan candidates and elections. Back in 1976, three candidates for the City Council ran as a team and were soundly defeated, although no one remembers if it was because of their political organization or voter dissatisfaction with the position their ticket took. Many here remember the Dream Team of former mayors Ben Tarver and Tom Pico and councilwoman and one-time mayoral candidate Becky Dennis. Tarver was elected mayor in 1992, Pico was elected to the council, and then the two of them supported Dennis in a special council election in 1993 to gain majority control of the council. The Dream Team's goal was to slow the rapid--some said uncontrolled--residential growth of the 1980s and to also organize neighborhoods so that what one group didn't like, others would come to its aid in the form of a referendum or strong opposition before the council. For the most part, the plan worked. Growth has slowed and continues to shrink as the city nears buildout, and, as we've seen with projects ranging from Applied Biosystems' difficulties in obtaining approval for its projects or Home Depot's failure to gain council support for a second store, neighborhoods pitted against neighborhoods often rules the decision-making process.

The Save Pleasanton's Hills coalition and the 5,000 signatures former Councilwoman Kay Ayala and other sponsors have collected for two of its actions so far speak well to the group's organizing efforts. It's not easy to talk 5,000 people into signing petitions. Whether they knew fully what they were signing or not, many of them may take ownership of the group they are now supporting. Certainly there's been strong opposition by the coalition to the City Council's approval of Oak Grove, a 51-home residential project atop Kottinger Ranch that is also accompanied by a gift by the developers of 500 acres of wooded terrain free of charge to the city of Pleasanton. After a Superior Court judge ruled that the coalition's signature gathering efforts were improper, Save Pleasanton's Hills is appealing that decision in the state Court of Appeal. In the meantime, the coalition has been successful in obtaining another 5,000 signatures (many could be the same names) to place an initiative on the Nov. 4 ballot that would block most development on steep hillsides and ridgelines. The City Council, frustrated that the coalition's measure could cause future development and open space acquisition problems, has placed a competing measure on the same ballot.

Although no one has cited the Save Pleasanton's Hills coalition as a political team, similar to the Dream Team of 16 years ago, its strong supporters include four who have taken out candidate's papers, but have not yet filed, to challenge Mayor Jennifer Hosterman for the city's top elected post. They include Steve Brozosky, Anne Fox, Greg O'Connor and Mary Roberts. For reelection to the council, incumbents Matt Sullivan and Cindy McGovern are also supporters of the Kay Ayala coalition. Two aren't: Hosterman and local businessman Jerry Pentin, who filed last Friday to run for City Council. Certainly with 5,000 register voters having signed both of the coalition's petitions that could be a formidable start to assembling strong voter support group to win at the ballot box.

We hope not. Partisan politics play a major role in larger cities. Here, those who sit on the City Council are elected at large, are supposed to represent the whole community and impartially represent various factions to give each a fair hearing. Even the Dream Team didn't last, although its slow-growth policies had a lasting impact. Tarver, after leaving office eight years later, moved out of town. Pico, once determined to stop--not just slow--growth is now a consultant to developers, including those planning to build Oak Grove. Dennis is today the city's most visible and influential advocate of building more affordable housing. Once the Nov. 4 election and the Court of Appeal's decision come and go, we hope Save Pleasanton's Hills will also morph into a broad-based citizens' group that works more amicably with the City Council and its commissions, whoever those representatives may be.


Posted by Dave, a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Aug 1, 2008 at 9:21 am

Steve Brozosky, Greg O'Connor and Mary Roberts = Bitter Republicans that can't win elections

Posted by iwastheretoo, a resident of Amador Estates
on Aug 1, 2008 at 10:05 am

Very odd comment. The editorial says 'Don't be partisan' and you head right there. The issue is not democrats versus republicans. The City Council and mayor should be bi-partisan and interested in what is best for Pleaanton. Your immediate jump into partisanship is both sad and reflective of what has gone wrong with Pleasanton politics. It would be nice if we avoided the labels and figured out which candidate can best serve the needs of the city.

Posted by Remove partisan, a resident of Downtown
on Aug 1, 2008 at 10:22 am

What does saving the hills have to do with partisan politics?

Are you are talking about people who think alike on issues on slow-growth vs. pro-growth? If so, why did you not go after the Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee; arguabally the bigest influence in the city on pro-growth. Oh I get it, Jeb is pro-growth so he would not want to saw something against the Chamber PAC.

This editorial was just rubbish but not surprising for the weakly. Trying to say that people who signed an initiative would vote for a candiate who supports the initiative and that is partisan politics?

Personally I would not vote for anybody who is endorsed by the Chamber as I know they will be pro-growth. The Chamber has supported every initiative that allows growth and opposed every initiative that controls growth. This is without exception.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 1, 2008 at 10:25 am

I think the editorial title could have been better. The editorial isn't about political parties (Democrats vs Republicans) but simpler factions (which parties grow out of). And as iwastheretoo pointed out, Dave fell for the misnomer.

I agree with the editorial. You can only pit neighborhood against neighborhood for so long. True leaders are able to align everyone, able to LEAD people. I just don't see Brozosky or any of the other Save Pleasanton Hills candidates as being able to do that. Mary Roberts is quoted in another article as saying she'll be a better mayor than Hosterman because she's a better negotiator. Wrong! You have to be a better LEADER. Elected officials have a responsibility to uphold the interests of the greater public of Pleasanton, not that of a single faction!

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 1, 2008 at 1:34 pm

There are other issues in Pleasanton. . .No one should vote based on one issue, and no one should vote based on one endorsement, chamber or otherwise. How about talking to the candidates, look at the track records, see beyond the politics and ask yourself, is this the community I want to belong to? Better yet, how can I make it a better community?
It's not about individuals, it's about our community.

Posted by Laughing all the way, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 1, 2008 at 3:34 pm

"Keep partisan politics out of Pleasanton"? Yeah, right. What a laughable, hypocritical editorial. As one previous poster noted, this editorial is rubbish. It's a bunch of garbage by fellow Democrat Jeb Bing and the Weekly, neither of whom have ever disagreed with the current Mayor on anything. Now there's something that stinks of partisanship, just like Jennifer Hosterman. Please, spare us the partisan electioneering for Hosterman.

Want to get rid of partisan politics in Pleasanton? Don't vote for Hosterman in November!

Posted by gerry brunken, a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 5, 2008 at 4:35 pm

I am not a big follower of blogs for a basic reason. If one wants to espouse an opinion or view, in Plesanton or elsewhere,fantastic,do it. However, if you have a sincere commitment to an issue or subject, why would you not want to put your name to it. Otherwise it is just Blah,Blah,Blah. However intelligent you think you are, or how superior, anonymous blathering does not indicate much validity to your beliefs.

Posted by Jerry, a resident of Oak Hill
on Aug 6, 2008 at 12:13 am

Mr/Ms Brunken,

Why don't I use my full name, you ask?

I did use my full name on another Forum and, somehow, someone I don't personally know, or wish to know, obtained my home phone number. It was then spread among some of the posters on that forum, apparently through PM'S. Any time I had a difference of opinion with what a "select few" posted, the phone calls started from the poster and his buddies. Wouldn't give their names but there was no doubt why they were calling - just start yelling and spouting language that would make a sailor blush.

For me personally, I hope that answers your question.........

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 6, 2008 at 8:12 am

Good example, Jerry. Mr. Brunken's ideal, while noble, doesn't quite work out well in reality. The Internet is no place to be ideal as long as there are childish adults in the world. While parents are busy trying to teach their teens how to protect themselves in online spaces, Mr. Brunken's ideal tries to encourage people in the opposite direction. There is a time and a place to use a full name or a real name. Here is definitely not the place. Who needs their full name spattered across this website on every single post they make so that a Google search results in this website being a top hit?

Posted by Greg, a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 6, 2008 at 12:30 pm

If the Weekly required registration and a password to post there would be no need to publically use real names. The way this works now someone can be slandered and have their reputations and possibly their careers ruined with absolutely no recourse.
I believe the Weekly is protected by law; however, if it truly is conecerned about truth in conjunction with freedom of the press, it cannot continue to allow completely anonymous postings. Or, perhaps the Weekly would like to accept legal responsibility and accountability for any damage that might be done to an individual with the kind of slanderous postings that we see in some of the threads.
If you don't believe that happens look at the thread where some of Anne Fox's supporters have accused certain Council members of breaking the law by receiving text messages during Council meetings. Please don't tell me that it doesn't matter. I hear this forum quoted too often.
Jeb simply cannot get slanderous posts off of this site quick enough to prevent damage. Once the damage is done, it's done. Any follow up denials, etc. are useless.

Posted by Gerry brunken, a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 7, 2008 at 4:30 pm

My first experience with the Pleasanton Weekly forum is interesting, but maybe not addictive.
Granted, there are vile and creepy extremists in society, and knowledgable parents should go the extra mile to caution their children in this internet age. We have all read of heartbreaking reports of predators on such websites as face book, my space, and others.
But,the Weekly forums are for reasonable adults, so at my age, I don't worry about possible negatives from speaking out, been there experienced that.
The few sentances I offered were not about nobility, but about standing up for your beliefs, by name, and up front, as I was tought by my father, and hopefully passed on to my children.
For over 10 years, I have written many letters to the Weekly and the other three locals espousing or rejecting various election candidates or issues, and sometimes just blowing off steam. You must submit your name and phone #. When speaking before the city council, you must give your name and the TV image goes out to the whole Tri Valley
Not once have I ever recieved a nasty phone call, and the yellow book number has been the same for 37 years. But don't bother to call, write a note to the forum or the editor. Anyone heard about caller I.D.?
I wish you all well, This from a proud graduate of the 2003 Citizens Police Academy. With the closing comment, hopefully I've just hedged my bet in favor of civility.

Gerry Brunken

Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Aug 7, 2008 at 6:46 pm

Mr. Brunken, the more you write the more you reveal you are a newbie to the world of the internet and its blogs. Your point of view and comments, while quite proper, seemed to be footed in the days of the past (and I don't mean the values that you express), and are still appropriate for speaking up in the traditional venues, letters-to-the-editor, commenting at public meetings, etc.

But the internet creates new and different issues. People read these discussions, they comment, and the protocols used are completely open (for example, the protocol of total anonymity based upon how the PW set up their blog). Note how you have now joined the crowd and are reading and posting here. So, you have become part of the crowd.

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