Seismic Shocks on Election Day
The recently elected pledge to chart a new course to slow development in Alameda.
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A common political axiom states that elections have consequences. Perhaps no other election fits this statement than Alameda. In an interview, Spencer talked of the election being a mandate for change in city direction. “I think it’s important both of us got elected,” Spencer said of her win and Matarrese’s return to the council. “We are charting a new course.” And when it comes to Alameda Point, Spencer said she will ask the city’s planning commission to reconsider any decision regarding Alameda Point “not 100 percent, unequivocally permanent.” Gilmore, following her concession speech, said the razor-slim margin of victory was neither a mandate nor a referendum on development.
However, change at City Hall might come begrudgingly, Spencer acknowledges. “I continually hear City Hall is unresponsive, and I expect the city manager and staff to be responsive to the people’s message; it’s not just development, it’s also fiscal,” said Spencer, referring to the city’s unfunded liabilities. “Everything is on the table.”
Jeff Del Bono, president of the firefighters’ union IAAF Local 689, said the election was not a referendum on the city’s development plans or concerns over city employee costs and benefits. Firefighters, said Del Bono, pay more toward their benefits than four years ago. “We contribute more than anybody else does in this county and that was all done through the collaborative process.”
At least, early on, the battle lines are being drawn over Spencer’s previous rhetoric questioning the fiscal health of the city over the next five years. “Fiscally, that’s a bunch of B.S.,” Del Bono said. “That’s what I call it.” In addition, with regard to benefits, Del Bono says the union plans to offer the new council a proposal for union members to pay more toward their retirement benefits, known as Other Postemployment Benefits, or OPEB. “We’ll see if Trish Spencer is actually going to put action into her words. We’ll give her something to vote on that will fund OPEB. We’re going to see if she’s going to be someone who raises the flag and screams, ‘We’re broke and bankrupt.’ I heard that back in 2007, and guess what? The lights are still on at City Hall.”