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The Sunshine Boys

The Sunshine Boys
by Dennis Green

There is much talk throughout California, and in my beloved hometown of Alameda, about “transparency in government.” Many references to “Sunshine Laws” are made, and here, a “Sunshine Task Force” has emerged to discuss and establish a Sunshine Ordinance to strengthen existing transparency rules. Not every little dark corner of public service, however, is being shone upon.

One local news blog site, for example, ACTION ALAMEDA News, has revealed that an Alameda School Board Trustee, Mike McMahon, has three relatives on the board payroll, including his wife and daughter. And also that the school board, in violation of state and federal law, is accepting Special Education funding without being able to demonstrate a consistent program for finding and recruiting students needing such services, and then providing them. Yet there is no outcry from the Sunshine Boys.

Gadfly Jon Spangler, City Council candidate Jeff Mitchell, and the League of Women Voters all call for more light, so long as it doesn’t shine on them, or any of their pet projects.

Meanwhile, serious charges have been raised against one City Council member, Lena Tam, who is accused of leaking confidential city documents to real estate developer SunCal. Tam’s activities are documented in several hundred pages of emails and inter-office memos CC-ed to the developer and to several local partisans, including a member of the Sunshine Task Force, John Knox-White, and a local blogster, Lauren Do. Again, not only is no concern voiced by the Sunshine Boys, but instead they make excuses for Tam and the others.

At the same time, these Shiny Day People accuse the Interim City Manager and City Attorney of various crimes and misdemeanors, without specifying any codes violated except their own sense of honor. This orb of sunlight appears to be very arbitrary about where it will shine and where it will not.

Some of the public denials of wrongdoing in the Tam case provided much local entertainment, especially the claim that John Knox-White “… did not have text with that woman!” So reminiscent of Bill Clinton, except for the missing sax. And none of these people call for an investigation of the vast SunCal conspiracy to rob the taxpayers.

New Politics in Alameda, and throughout the nation really, are beginning to shape up as the unkindest cuts of all — bitter personal attacks, snarky and smarmy blog commentaries, Tea Party and Town Hall Meeting blockheads, and viral partisanship that brooks no compromise. We can only pray that most of these newbies bought too late and too expensive, that their mortgages are underwater or in default or foreclosure, and that they will soon be packing their bags back to Fresno.

For the Sunshine Boys want to hide away their own pet projects and misdemeanors where the sun don’t shine. Their idea of transparency is a means to embarrass their opponents, not to require full disclosure of the shenanigans of public employees. Not a word from them about unfunded fire fighters union pension perks, let alone exorbitant city executive payrolls.

If they really cared about corruption, equally, on all sides, in the bowels of the school district as much as city management, I’d be impressed. But as it is, all I can see from them is just another partisan smokescreen disguised as something impartial, noble and selfless.

This isn’t, of course, the first time we’ve seen such a song and dance routine in politics. Transparency in government was the claim of Ronald Reagan’s gang, until the Iran-Contra Deal was uncovered. It was also the claim of President Richard Nixon, until those 18 minutes on his office tapes went missing. We know by now that anyone who says he has an exclusive corner on sunlight is coming from the Dark Side.

9 comments to The Sunshine Boys

  • Barb

    The SUNSHINE BOYS (BONTA MITCHELL et. al., have tried to create an issue designed to draw focus from SUNSHINE/transparancy promoter LEAKY TAM (aka PASS THROUGH TO GILMORE and SUNCAL) and at the same time create ersatz issues upon which to base campaigns for office. They think they can buy enough cover for their wolf hides with out-of-town riches to fool voters into thinking they actually care about Alameda. But their actions, combined with SUNCAL’s lawsuit trying to force itself back into our midst makes everything pretty transparent. The SUNSHINE BOYS should be relabeled the SUNCAL BOYS.
    Governing a city with diverse interests and populations in these declining economic times is a formidable task. Instead of taking pot shots at City staff (who are hired and fired by the Council) they ought to take a look at TAM’s actions which are crippling the City.

    We have a sitting Councilmember who has forwarded confidential attorney client emails to SUNCAL, and the firefighters. She has blindcopied GLIMORE of her intentions. She has sent these mails to SUNSHINE/SUNCAL boys, DO and QUICK of the league of Women voters. How can any competent Councilmember go into closed session – where much City business needs to be conducted, with a known SPY for the other side? Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Put yourselves in the council’s place and ask what would you do? True, TAM is entitled to the presumption of innocence, but rather than push for an investigation which could clear her, she has hired a $900 an hour attorney, to try and talk the DA into “NOT INVESTIGATING”. Why? I would think if she were innocent, she would open her files, and those of her SUNSHINE suporters who received her emails, and demand a full investigation to clear her. She hasn’t done that. She has done the opposite. Obfuscate the issues, throw blame on everyone else, for everything else, snowball little concerns into front page issues, and hope she survives the dearth of chickens scratching around in the feed lot for grain.

  • WonderWonder

    I don’t know if this sunshine thing is a real issue or one of those things that pols like to do. You know, wag the dog. If this is such a big issue, why not bring it up in City Council right now. Can’t anyone one of them bring it up and once and for all resolve things? Or are people purposefully not wanting to solve thing to make this a wage he dog issue for november. Isn’t that right, though? Anyone of the persons on council can right now bring it up. Am I right? There has to be something in the city rules that says a councilmember can put an issue on the agenda for public discussion — so why not do so now to beat that Sept 11 date?

  • WonderWonder

    Oh, found it. Its in the ordinance below. So is someone going to do this? just wondering. You’d think if they were really really serious about it, especially given the griping about no money set aside for Sept 11 meeting, you’d think someone would say, I’m going to try to call this special meeting and get them the money they need asap.

    2-1.3 Special Meeting.

    A special meeting may be called by the Mayor or majority of the members of the Council by serving all members as required by general law within at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to the meeting, except for emergency meetings, with written notice of the time and place thereof and the business to be transacted. No other business may be considered at such meeting.

  • Richard Hausman

    My, my Dennis Green using smear by innuendo? I’m shocked! I wonder what light he’d like to shine on Jeff Mitchell and the League of Women Voters? Or perhaps he thinks by making charges against Mike McMahon and immediately following it with Jeff’s and the LWV would somehow, even without facts, include them as having something to hide? To say nothing of slippping it to John Knox-White by comparing him to Bill Clinton.

    I would suggest that Mr. Green be factual and literate, and keep his own screeds “where the sun don’t shine.”

  • Hot R

    Richard – You forgot the non-issues he brought up about McMahon. As a school trustee he voted to for furlough days,which cut the salary of his “relatives.” I guess Dennis missed that. And what law is it Dennis that McMahon is violating? You never have a response to that.

    The special education charge is especially silly, as it is the responsibility of SELPA, not the District, and Dennis keeps repeating it despite the fact it has no substance. Time to do some actual reporting, not a series of empty charges.

    And here’s my favorite part of Greenie’s screed…

    “bitter personal attacks, snarky and smarmy blog commentaries, Tea Party and Town Hall Meeting blockheads, and viral partisanship that brooks no compromise ”

    Gee Dennis that sounds a lot like you, you, and you again.

  • Barb

    Any councilmember can have an item added to a regular agenda, at any time. Calling a special meeting invokes the additional requirements set forth by WonderWonder, above. If it is a subject that needs further addressing by staff, the council can ask for that at the first meeting. Council probably won’t take action until a proposed action/report has been generated with a recommendation. Just generally speaking.
    The record retention requirements have already been set legislatively by the Council, and where permitted by staff. And look where this got TAM and GILMORE. I am not sure they have a real interest in letting any more SUNSHINE in. It is just being used as a ping pong ball to create an issue of interest for the upcoming election. Something to distract attention from the fundamental issuses facing our city. Which is that SUNCAL is trying to wedge its ugly head back in. Can you image dealing with SUNCAL and having little Skippy & Son parading and parroting around at every council and planning board meeting? Talk about Dante’s Inferno and some of the hells of the world. This would require a new song reaching new lows and torments for sinners.

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ActionAlameda, 77417. 77417 said: The Sunshine Boys http://bit.ly/dlQVkD via http://outside.in/77417 […]

  • Hot R – You’re conveniently forgetting that the folks at SELPA clearly said – “Each District is obligated to do their own child find survey” activities. The federal law is clear – the local Districts are to conduct child find.

    Statute: TITLE I / B / 612 / a / 10 / A / ii

    (ii) Child find requirement.–

    (I) In general.–The requirements of paragraph (3) (relating to child find) shall apply with respect to children with disabilities in the State who are enrolled in private, including religious, elementary schools and secondary schools.

    (II) Equitable participation.–The child find process shall be designed to ensure the equitable participation of parentally placed private school children with disabilities and an accurate count of such children.

    (III) Activities.–In carrying out this clause, the local educational agency, or where applicable, the State educational agency, shall undertake activities similar to those activities undertaken for the agency’s public school children.

    (IV) Cost.–The cost of carrying out this clause, including individual evaluations, may not be considered in determining whether a local educational agency has met its obligations under clause (i).

    (V) Completion period.–Such child find process shall be completed in a time period comparable to that for other students attending public schools in the local educational agency.

    Regulations: Part 300 / B / 300.131 / b

    (b) Child find design. The child find process must be designed to ensure–

    (1) The equitable participation of parentally-placed private school children; and

    (2) An accurate count of those children.

    Statute: TITLE I / B / 612 / a / 10 / A / ii / II

    (II) Equitable participation.–The child find process shall be designed to ensure the equitable participation of parentally placed private school children with disabilities and an accurate count of such children.

  • Excellent letter in the Sun today, “Small Potatoes,” comparing the latest smokescreen about the Fire Chief filling up his car to the $400,000 SunCal’s Measure B cost the taxpayers. And what did AUSD’s Measure E cost us all? Can we bill Mike McMahon for that one? How about Hot Rocks?

    His rhetoric, and Hausman’s go me one better when it comes to smarmy innuendo. And if Tam is investigated, JKW, Do, and Gilmore and Quick need a little scrutiny by the D.A. As well. I’m not making this stuff up. As for McMahon, clean as a whistle I’m sure. Nothing wrong with nepotism, unless you have ethics.

    The apologists for SunCal and AUSD and Measures B & E just keep grinding the same old tired axes, but we’ve defeated them both times and look forward to an opportunity to do the same in March. Rhetoric don’t vote!!!

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