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SunCal Flunky Kathy Moehring Bans Protect The Point From Webster Street Farmer’s Market

Kathy Moehring, an Alameda resident, and wife of former City of Alameda planning department staffer Bruce Knopf, banned today from the Webster Street Farmer’s Market peaceful supporters of Protect The Point who were handing out flyers and talking to Alameda residents about SunCal’s Alameda Point Revitalization Initiative.

At the invitation of Samantha, the Farmer’s Market representative who invited Protect the Point supporters to set up a table this morning at the market to hand out flyers and talk to voters, three supporters did so. After some time, Ms. Moehring, the executive director of the West Alameda Business Association (WABA), and the “citizen” who signed SunCal’s Alameda Point Revitalization Initiative, appeared on the scene, and, according to eye-witness accounts, “got very aggressive” with Ms. Shirley Koblick, an octogenarian who lives at Alameda’s senior residence, Independence Plaza, and a supporter of Protect The Point’s platform who was handing out flyers. Ms. Moehring was shouting about how the elderly lady was being “political” and couldn’t be at the market.

Ms. Moehring’s salary as the executive director of WABA is subsidized by the City of Alameda. She and her husband are boosters of the SunCal revitalization initiative. In the past few days, Alameda voters have received a mailer from “Alamedans for Alameda Point Revitalization,” a local group organized by SunCal and consisting largely of SunCal “insiders” and which advocates for support of SunCal’s initiative. The letter has a return address of 851 West Midway, Alameda, CA 94501, which we reported previously is the space leased by SunCal for their campaign.

Ms. Moehring is a signatory to the letter.

16 comments to SunCal Flunky Kathy Moehring Bans Protect The Point From Webster Street Farmer’s Market

  • Detailer

    Shirley Koblick needs to file a lawsuit against Ms. Moehring. Get her a lawyer, so it’s done right. The key is to try to get an anti-stalking TRO and restraining order against Ms. Moehring, because once issued it automatically goes in a national database of problem people who are forbidden, by Federal law, from ever owning or carrying a gun. This sort of lawsuit will also cost Ms. Moehring money for her defense, and a judgment against her, if filed with the County Clerk, will put a serious ding on her credit reports.

    These business oriented, usually Republican people who aggressively interfere with other people’s First Amendment rights are usually very egotistical and self-satisfied, and are often sociopaths.

    However, if they get the idea that interfering with other people’s First Amendment Rights will end up hurting their credit report and FICO score, they often think twice about interfering a second time.

    Ms. Moehring, just how brave are you going to be? Are you willing to have your name on a national database of stalkers? Are you willing to be put on the Federal TSA’s list of people who always are subject to secondary search at the airport, because they are on the stalker registry, which is created under Federal law and tied to the TSA’s list of names of people to watch carefully? If you own a gun, are you willing to lose your right to carry and own it…that’s what happens, automatically, under Federal law, when someone gets a stalking TRO or permanent injunction against you.

    Are you willing to go to jail, even for a day after your arrest, if a criminal assalut or battery complaint is filed against you?

    Do you realize that if you are sued for stalking or harassment or assault and battery, you can end up having your homeowners insurance cancelled or your annual premium can be substantially increased?

    And don’t think SunCal is going to forever pay to “indemnify” you against all of these problems. If you read Lehman Brothers’ Disclosure Statement for their proposed Chapter 11 Plan in the Lehman/SunCal bankruptcy court file called In re: Palmdale Hills, it says that when the SunCal ship sinks on the Lehman related cases, the owner of SunCal is going to end up owing $230 Million to surety bond companies. I doubt that with these serious problems he is going to be writing any checks to help you out of the trouble you are foolishly gettting yourself into.

    The First Amendment is very nice, but it can end up costing you a lot of money and a lot of heart ache when you foolishly exercise it for some corporation’s financial gain.

  • This is just silly, and reflects badly on Action Alameda, not Kathy.

    It’s a farmer’s market, for pete’s sake, not a political rally. When I’m at a farmer’s market for fruits and veggies, I don’t want to be thinking about anything but said fruits and veggies. If I want political activism with my grocery shopping, I can go to Berekely Bowl. I *want* the person in charge of the farmer’s market to set limits about what can happen there.

    And, as the farmer’s market is Kathy’s responsibility in her role as ED of WABA, it is up to her to decide who is and is not allowed to be there. I don’t know who Samantha is, but I’ll bet she lacked the authority to invite Protect the Point to set up at the farmer’s market in the first place. I’ll bet Protect the Point might have suspected that was the case.

    And feeling the consequences of stepping outside the process for who sets up a booth at the farmer’s market is the issue here, not “Ms. Moehring’s” mental health, or her affiliation with SunCal, and support of their initiative, and certainly not her husband’s former job. Samantha stepped out of bounds, Protect the point took advantage of that, Kathy over-reacted, and this piece is pretty purple as journalism goes. Everybody’s hands are a little bit dirty, the way I see it.

    You know better than to put this kind of spin on this. I expect better. We need better.

    Perhaps we could stay focused on the issue in the future, especially as this issue continues to heat up. As satisfying as personal attacks may feel in the moment, they do lasting damage: They obscure the strength of the case against SunCal, marginalize those who oppose it, and shut down dialog. C’mon, people. We can disagree without becoming a caricature of the looney opposition, can’t we? Of course we can.

    Please stop demonizing Kathy or anyone else who likes the SunCal initiative, and get back to the substance of the problems with SunCal as developer of Alameda Point, which are legion.

    Thank you for listening.

  • Samantha Stevens is the Market Manager for the Alameda Farmer’s Market – one of many markets run by the Pacific Cost Farmers’ Market Association. She’s on staff with PCFMA, and, indeed, has the authority to invite residents to hand out flyers at the site. Two weeks prior, your correspondent himself spoke with Samantha at the market and she made express her invitation for us to flyer at the market, and even set up a table and chair for us in an open stall. This was two weeks after another volunteer had the same discussion with Ms. Stevens. Yesterday, there were no open stalls, so Ms. Stevens set up a chair and some space at the market information stall, and that’s where Ms. Koblick was handing out flyers – we know this, because we were there for the set-up and first 20 minutes. NOBODY has stepped outside the process for participating in the Farmer’s Market – from the get-go, we all have been working directly with the Market Manager, Ms. Stevens.

    The question is what authority Kathy Moehring has to kick out anybody she doesn’t like or anyone who presents information she disagrees with. Ms. Koblick and everyone who has handed out flyers at the Market, the Webster St. Jam, Park Street Fair or anyplace have always focused on the issues. It’s Kathy Moehring, who doesn’t like the messages from the opposition, who chose to blow this up to something outside of the issues and the merits/demerits of SunCal’s initiative.

  • Lori

    Using language like “verbally assaulted” is inflamatory and distracts from the real issues. ActionAlameda might be able to get more supporters if they toned down the rhetoric. Using this kind of language makes their position look weak and silly.

  • Kathy Moehring distracted everyone from the real issue by blowing up at the market for no good reason. If she wanted to focus on issues, she could have been handing out flyers herself with opposing messaging.

    “verbally assaulted” is appropriate – if you’ve even seen Shirley Koblick, you would know she’s no threat to anybody – a slight, elderly lady. She didn’t deserve what Kathy dished out.

    The reports we got, from multiple sources describe Kathy Mohering’s behavior as:

    “…she thought it was a scream [Moehring] and I do too.”

    “Kathy Moehring showed up just as we were leaving and got very aggressive — she started in on Shirley [Koblick], of all people…”

    “Kathy started shouting…”

    What kind of person comes up and starts in on a little old lady like that?

  • barb

    I was the councilmember who requested staff look into starting the Webster Street Farmer’s Market with seed money from CDBG (community block grant fund) decades ago. Hate to see it misused by anyone. My understanding is that the market has always been held on public land, and is therefore really open to anyone, subject to regulation for health issues etc.

    It appears that Samantha had actual or apparent authority to allow anyone space at the market. Kathy Moehring is an actual or apparent agent of SUNCAL with a vested interest in getting SUNCAL’s initiative on the ballot. She may have acted upon the direction of or with the implied consent of SUNCAL. Her actions are certainly actionable. They are consistent with SUNCAL’s disregard for the laws of the State of California and its citizens rights thus far in the campaign. Her actions are inconsistent with promoting Webster Street as President of WABA. Once SUNCAL is in, Webster will face another disasterous marketing situation just as when Marina Village opened. Why don’t shoppers just stay away from her and her businesses? Or is she getting a new one at the Point as payback for what she is doing now?

    I applaud Action Alameda for speaking up. What is going to happen if this Initiative passes? Is Kathy Moehring going to be able to decide who gets to speak and where when about the development? What about the Council? Are they really going to listen to the voters if we allow these kind of tactics to prevail?

    If this Initiative passes we can just expect more of the same. And why not? We will have shown that we won’t stand up for our City to maintain the quality of life which brought us, or our parents (grand and great grand for some) here in the first place. That we will be polite and abide by the laws when SUNCAL and its agents will not. When an entity is willing to throw this much money at an issue such as this Initiative, one has to ask “Exactly how much are they going to profit?” Why can’t the City keep that profit for itself? Why is some abstract sterile entity with a track record of 30 bankruptcies, unpaid bills and dumping significant risks of its failed projects on trapped residents, being allowed to openly come into our City and seriously degrade the quality of life in Alameda?

    We should all be up in arms, not thinking how can I profit from this? The only way to speak to such persons is through what matters most to them: Their pocketbooks.

  • The City of Alameda owes Shirley Koblick an apology for Ms. Moehring’s behavior – I’ve communicated this to the City Manager and Council.

  • barb

    The City of Alameda, and its Mayor in particular, owes its citizens an apology for allowing SUNCAL to come into town and use these tactics. Like any good product, honesty and obeying not only the law, but the spirit of the law, will be enough to gain acceptance. Its only when you are selling garbage that you need hype, hyperbole, dishonesty, and force to get people to bite.

  • Alan

    Barb, thanks for clarifying who owns the real estate on which the Farmer’s Market takes place. If it is public land there is no question that First Amendment activities can take place without anyone, city official or organizers of the market, having the authority to interfere or intimidate those exercising their constitutional privilege.

    California law controls here. The City of L.A., for many years, has tried to keep people from setting up tables on the sidewalks along the beach in Venice, California, and using the tables to conduct First Amendment activities. California courts have consistently ruled that public property is open to First Amendment activities, even going so far as saying tarot readers can set up tables.

    So my question is why the City of Alameda spends its tax dollars to pay someone like this Kathy Moehring, who is clearly an illiterate on basic principles taught in High School…like the First Amendment?

    And, by the way, under California law, people can also exercise their First Amendment rights at privately owned business premises which are open to the public, like shopping malls and the sidewalks in front of supermarkets and stores like Target. Just a thought because I’m sure the SunCal ash lickers will interfere with First Amendment activities there too.

  • Jon Spangler

    Dear AA,

    It is the policy of the Alameda’s Farmer’s Market (and PCFMA, too, as best I can determine) to prohibit all partisan political activity, and Protect the Point is a political group. Alameda’s firefighters, Suncal’s petitioners, people passing petitions on statewide initiatives, and other political representatives have always been similarly prohibited from soliciting or passing out information at Alameda’s farmer’s markets, as regular shoppers like me have known for many years. Not every legal activity is permitted in a farmer’s market–smoking is also prohibited because it is a place where food is prepared and consumed, for example.

    Apparently, Samantha and other PCFMA first thought (or were led to believe?) that PTP was an environmental group, which was why PTP was improperly permitted to bring its political message into the market at first. Protect the Point’s presence at the market clearly violated the market’s long-standing prohibition of all political activity within its space. About this there is no mistake.

    Kathy Moehring, acting in her official capacity as the Executive Director of the West Alameda Business Association, recognized the error and acted to correct it by removing the prohibited political activity and group from the Farmer’s Market. (Samantha has since apologized to WABA for allowing PTP to disrupt the market with prohibited political activities.) The same corrective action has previously been taken to remove other political activity from Alameda farmer’s markets. This is highly appropriate, whether the political activity is by Suncal, the Alameda firefighters, political candidates, or other partisan groups.

    Like Liz Williams, I find your hysterical and personal attacks on Kathy Moehring and others supporting Suncal offensive and quite counterproductive to making your case. Calling people “ash lickers,” “flunky,” and worse is inflammatory, rude, incorrect, and quite unnecessary. You could make your points quite well without calling people names. Perhaps you could focus instead on the facts at hand and not make threats and ad hominem attacks?

    Did PTP or AA bother to contact the PCFMA for their views on Moehring’s corrective actions AFTER this incident, once PCFMA understood the nature of PTP’s partisan political purposes and activities? What did PCFMA say for the record to PTP or AA after they knew about PTP’s true identity and goals?

    Perhaps if PTP had been more cognizant of the historic policies of the PCFMA and its two markets in Alameda that prohibit partisan political activities, they would have saved themselves the embarrassment of violating long-standing farmers market policies in the first place.

  • I wish someone would look into the parking situation on this particular City owned lot. I have seen people turned away from parking on Tuesdays and Saturdays( Farmers Market Days ),because many of the spaces have what looks like homemade reserved signs on it and are being kept vacant. Kathy Moehring even has hired someone to block entry into the lot. I think a city owned property should not be managed by a private citizen. If the merchants on Webster need the place to park there cars there, then move the Market or find an alternate space for those days.

  • Jon Spangler

    R. Beck,

    The parking lot off of Santa Clara is reserved by WABA for handicapped vehicle access, market vendor loading and unloading, and for customers of the Lucky Ju-Ju Pinball place on market days.

    The parking lot is being managed appropriately as a part of supporting easy handicapped access to the market, which is impossible when able-bodied patrons of other Webster Street establishments fill up all the spaces available.

    If you have trouble parking a car there on market days, I suggest that you do what dozens of other market patrons like me do all the time–ride your bike there or walk to the market. (I never have any trouble finding a tree or parking meter to lock my bike to, even though there are no code-compliant bike parking racks there yet.)

    Jon (who has ridden his bike year-round to the Tuesday market for about a decade)

  • Mr Spangler, believe me, if I would still be able to ride a bike, I would.You are very lucky , that you are still able to do this. Many Alameda seniors are not as fortunate. At my age, I am lucky if I still get up the stairs in my home.I have been a patron at the Farmers Market for a very long time and always parked at the City Parking lot on Central. The lot belongs to the City of Alameda and is supposed to bring in revenue. Since when can a private business reserve parking for their customers in a City owned lot? I hope the City Manager will look into this and believe me Mr. Spangler, after this discussion, I personally will look into this and file a complaint with the appropriate department.

  • barb

    I take it the sole signator on the Petition to circulate SUNCAL’s initiative, Kathy Moehring, as Exec. Dir. Of WABA, has remained totally independent. Or do her actions ring of at least the appearance of impropriety? And her political position had nothing to do with her opposition to the opponents of SUNCAL? Kathy Moehring was out of line in enforcing the Farmer’s Market’s policies. Who made her the speech cop? The more appropriate action would have been to notify the Farmer’s Market personnel that someone (SUNCAL) objected to it. If the person was asked by an authorized person to leave and did not leave, then call the Alameda Police Department. They are trained for this and would never behave as Moehring did. It was not appropriate for WABA Ex. Dir. Moehring to get in the face of a senior citizen who thought she had permission to be there. As SUNCAL has had a presence at the JAM and other WABA events trhough its agents on public property, this smells like a double standard. Is this what SUNCAL and its “advisory” committee intend if they get even more power? Are they becoming our speech Police? This kind of behavior simply has to be stopped. If they get away with this, it will just get worse.

  • Jon Spangler – calm down. You’re not even addressing the right person – it was not us who used the term “ash lickers” – it was another commenter. And since when do you speak for WABA or the PCFMA?? Under what authority are you reporting anything about their policy or their interactions with WABA?

    If we wanted to make a personal attack on Kathy Moehring, we could have repeated any one of the un-printable names we’ve heard various people refer to her by over the past several months, or we could suggest that she’s a bully for going after an elderly lady – picking on someone she figures she can push around. (She didn’t try any of that crap with younger people of the male gender at the Webster St. Jam.) We reported what happened as explained to us from multiple sources. As for the term “flunky,” look it up: a person of unquestioning obedience. Which we presume fairly represents her relationship with SunCal.

    If the market manager for the farmer’s market is un-familiar with the policies, and, contrary to policy, is allowing people to use space at the market, that’s a problem for her and PCFMA, and Ms. Moehring has no justification in trying to make it someone else’s problem by blowing up and yelling at a couple of senior citizens. Yes, evidently Kathy distributed her anger across 2 or 3 people, not just Shirley.

    Also to be answered is the question of what authority, if any, Kathy Moehring has to enforce PCFMA policy. Never mind the question of her legal authority to try to control who can petition on public property. And by the way – the PCFMA has no email address on their website, and apparently they are closed on the weekends, as nobody answered the phone.

    Don’t try to deflect the issue – it’s not a question of the farmer’s market policy – it’s Kathy Moehring’s behavior – going after an elderly woman like that – that is the issue, whatever her rationale. What if Shirley collapsed with a heart attack or stroke? Moehring is opening the City of Alameda up to claims and a lawsuit – the City of Alameda gives WABA a lot of money each year, some of which is used to pay her salary.

  • R.Beck – suggest you start by calling Kathy Moehring, at WABA, at (510) 523-5955.