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News

Roz Rogoff, San Ramon Observer

Policies or politics?

I called Dave Hudson on January 16th to ask him about the comments made by Councilmembers Phil O'Loane, Scott Perkins, and Mayor Bill Clarkson on why they didn't endorse him for reelection in the election last year. The three Councilmembers all said their reasons were based on policy differences.

The differences according to Hudson are not so much about policies but about politics. Dave's interpretation of "policies" is different from the other three. "They want to do the political stuff and want to be loved," Dave said.

Dave considers a "policy" a requirement mandated by State law, or established in a regional plan like One Bay Area, or voted on by residents like the City Charter or General Plan. So Dave's definition of "a policy" is hard coded into some document or law and not just what politicians want to do or promised their constituents.

This helps to understand where Dave Hudson is coming from on his positions for the City and his speeches on the Dais where he often says to those in attendance, "You voted for this . . .," meaning the public voted on some measure that they probably didn't read through or understand. But Dave believes we should all know what we voted for.

Dave called the "policies" mentioned by Councilmembers Perkins and O'Loane and Mayor Clarkson, "politics, not policies." Phil O'Loane wants to buy open space around the city. Hudson said we can't afford that. Even if environmental groups like Save Mount Diablo and East Bay Regional Parks take over ownership and maintenance of the land, it may not be forever.

Hudson said that non-profits sometimes sell off properties to developers. So just because a property is purchased to preserve it as open space, that isn't a guarantee the properties won't be developed at some time in the future.

Scott Perkins said he wanted to do a better job communicating with residents about city projects. He said Dave was not supportive of Staff. I asked Dave who Scott Perkins wanted as the staff contact point for city information. Dave said it was Terry Koehne, the Community Relations contact for the San Ramon Valley Unified School District.

Two years ago Mayor Clarkson proposed hiring a PIO or Public Information Officer. I thought that was a good idea, but the cost was estimated between $150-200K. This was when the city had a hiring freeze on and wasn't replacing employees who left or retired. So it would not be a wise investment to hire a PIO from outside at such a high cost.

Hudson pointed out that the Mayor and City Council can only hire the City Manager and City Attorney. All other staff positions are hired by the City Manager. Staff can direct the City Manager to budget a position for a PIO and hire someone to fill it, but the Council cannot, according to the City Charter, hire that person or force the City Manager to hire a specific person.

I commented on hiring a PIO at the July 24, 2012 City Council meeting. The Council voted to defer hiring a PIO at that meeting, but did not drop the possibility of hiring one eventually. At that time I did not know that Clarkson and Perkins wanted Terry Koehne for this position.

Clarkson was a Trustee for the School District for many years and he and Koehne are, to use Dave's word, "buddies." I asked Dave why Scott Perkins would want to hire Terry Koehne. Dave said Perkins wanted to back up Clarkson. But why, I asked? Dave said that Clarkson and Perkins went to High School together, and Perkins wanted to do what Clarkson wanted.

Now I'm just the messenger here, so don't shoot me. I'm reporting what Dave Hudson told me. So if Scott or Bill or Terry wants to reply to this, it isn't my quote. However, I didn't want Terry either. We don't need a spin doctor to make the City look good. Residents need real information about what is going on.

Too often residents complain that they didn't know about xyz or they weren't contacted or informed. Communication is a two way process. Too many residents don't make the effort to find all of the information that's already available to them on the City's website, at the Library, or even at regularly scheduled public meetings. Instead they want a spokesperson to knock on their door and like a town crier, tell them everything that's been going on and what is planned for next. It ain't gonna happen.

Dave Hudson knows a lot about what the City Council can or cannot do. He just needs to explain it better. Better doesn't mean more verbiage or repeating the same things he's said before. Dave needs to recognize that most residents don't follow local politics and what's happening in the city until something happens they don't like. Then they want their City Council to fix it.

That isn't what City Government is for. It's to keep things running smoothly, manage expenses, and improve revenues and infrastructure. Dave knows what the City Council can and cannot do, and he's honest enough to say so.

Comments

Posted by Richard, a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 21, 2014 at 7:16 am

Always enjoy your comments and insights.


Posted by LIz, a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 21, 2014 at 10:42 am

"Even if environmental groups like Save Mount Diablo and East Bay Regional Parks take over ownership and maintenance of the land, it MAY not be forever."

Hmmm - well we know for sure what will happen if Dave Hudson has his way. Development, development, development. He is correct that we should absolutely know what we voted for and should be ashamed that we do not. BUT perhaps he likes it that way.


Posted by Bob P, a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Liz, what do you base your opinion about Dave on? Where is San Ramon is there rampant development? I know there are factions within San Ramon that do not want any new development, of any kind, are you one of those?

To me it is very clear why none of the current Council supported Dave in the last election, and that was because there is no support for even a moderate growth position anymore. All of the money is in the 'slow/no' growth position which O'Loane and Clarkson have embraced, and which Perkins is leaning. At this point, I'm not sure where Sachs stands, in relation to Dave, but I certainly hope he will stand as an independant and not be swayed by the money that the "no growthers" seem to be able to throw around.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer
on Jan 21, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Bob P.

Were you on the Planning Commission with Harry or did you move before he was appointed? Harry was for infill development and meeting the State's housing and workforce requirements when he was on the Planning Commission. He strongly supported Measure W.

He flipped some of these positions in favor of slow growth in his campaign for City Council. He was endorsed by Jim Gibbon but not by Phil O'Loane.

Now that he has been elected it will be interesting to see where he is on growth issues. As a Planning Commissioner he approved that infill development on Ryan Industrial Court because it met the zoning and was, as he put it, the best that could be put there. So if Dave had "sharp policy differences" with Bill over that development, so did Harry.

Roz


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer
on Jan 21, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Liz,

Dave Hudson is not for "Development, development, development." The State and regional agencies like ABAG and CCTA impose requirements for workforce housing, live/work housing, and a documented Housing Element that outlines how these mandated numbers will be met.

Dave Hudson knows what these are and the punishments for not meeting them. If you don't want "Development, development, development," look to the Governor and State Assembly, not our City Council!

Roz


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer
on Jan 21, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Thank you, Richard. Complements are always appreciated.

Roz


Posted by Bob P, a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2014 at 1:42 pm

I was on Planning with both Harry and Phil O'Loane. As I recall, Phil was also in favor of a lot as a Planning Commissioner that is is not in favor of now as a 'politician'. There is a difference between making legally sound planning decisions that are based on zoning and law, vs voting based on where your support is coming from in your next election or which favors you promised to get that endorsement.

As I mentioned before, there is no support in the moderate growth position or in the support of property owners rights.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer
on Jan 21, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Bob,

"As I mentioned before, there is no support in the moderate growth position or in the support of property owners rights." Unless it is their property.


Posted by Longtime Resident, a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 21, 2014 at 3:07 pm

"There is a difference between making legally sound planning decisions that are based on zoning and law, vs voting based on where your support is coming from in your next election or which favors you promised to get that endorsement. "

You nailed it Bob.


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