Piedmont Neighborhood News

What's happening in Piedmont, CA

Archive for February, 2010

What’s Going On?

Posted by Len Gilbert on February 25, 2010

Beach Dad’s Winter Jazz Night

An Evening with Mingus Amungus, an All-star Bay Area Jazz Band, and the Jaz Katz. Saturday, February 27th. read more


City Commissions

CIP Review Committee – 2 Vacancies – 1 Incumbent

Civil Service Commission – 1 Vacancy – 1 Incumbent

Park Commission – 2 Vacancies – 1 Incumbent

Planning Commission – 3 Vacancies – 3 Incumbents

Recreation Commission – 3 Vacancies – 0 Incumbents

read more….

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Piedmont’s Draft CAP Now Online

Posted by Len Gilbert on February 25, 2010

To interested Piedmonters:

Please note that Piedmont ’s Draft Climate Action Plan (CAP) has been revised at the request of City Council. (Please see the minutes for the January 4, 2010 Council hearing.)

The revised CAP is now posted and available for public review on the City’s website. For those without computers, printed copies of the CAP are available upon request at the Administration Counter in City Hall. All Piedmonters are encouraged to review the plan and participate in the adoption process by submitting written comments and attending the City Council’s public hearing on the issue. The CAP and its associated Initial Study/Negative Declaration are currently scheduled to be considered for adoption by City Council at their regularly scheduled hearing on March 15, 2010, 7:30 pm in Council Chambers, City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue , Piedmont , CA 94611 . Written comments to Council can be directed to City Clerk Ann Swift at the same address.

Please visit the City’s Climate Action Program webpage for more information on the climate action planning process.

Sincerely,

Kevin Jackson
Assistant Planner
City of Piedmont
120 Vista Avenue
Piedmont, CA 94611
T:  (510) 420-3039
F:  (510) 658-3167

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Winter Jazz Night – Get your tickets before they sell out!

Posted by Len Gilbert on February 18, 2010

An Evening with Mingus Amungus, an All-star Bay Area Jazz Band, and the Jaz Katz

Beach Dads Winter Jazz Night

When: Saturday, February 27th

Where: Piedmont Veterans’ Hall

Details: Food donated by Butterfly Restaurant, Beer & Wine $5 at event. Adults only, childcare available.


Buy One Ticket

Buy a single ticket

Buy Two Tickets

Buy two tickets

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3 on Council Cave, Cough Up the Cash for Undergrounding

Posted by Len Gilbert on February 6, 2010

Correction: After publishing this last night, I was informed the actual vote on the appropriations was 3-2, with council members Keating and Fujioka casting no votes and mayor Friedman, and council members Barbieri, and Chiang in favor. I watched the vote live on TV and again on video, but missed the no votes. My apologies.

The city council met for 6 1/2 hours in open session Saturday and ended up raiding the CIP reserves to cover an additional $1,150,000 to complete the PHUD undergrounding project. This comes after the raid of the general fund in December for $1,004,000.

That’s $2.154 million dollars of public taxpayer funds that will be spent to complete undergrounding for the residents of PHUD.

Piedmont's existing and proposed undergrounding districts

The bailout of the undergrounding district comes at the expense of many public projects that were already on hold. It’s amazing that money that was held back because of these uncertain economic times is suddenly available for an undergrounding project. The money could have been used for the community pool, pedestrian path signage, the Ronada-Ramona intersection safety redesign, Community Hall painting, Beach Access landscape plan (two large trees removed, now no money to fix the area), Dracena drainage and turf improvements, Ricardo-York stairway, Rose-Kingston improvements. Those projects clearly would benefit the majority of Piedmont residents and are dispersed all over town. Now all that money is funneled into the 144  PHUD residents undergrounding. (source: Council Agenda Report, December 12, 2009, Exhibit C p12)

Points go to Margaret Fujioka for her attempt to get a compromise with the PHUD residents to put in another $500k, the contractor to reduce profits, and the city to pay the difference. But as expected, the PHUD and contractor won’t budge. They want the city to pay.  Which means we pay. And the council voted 3-2 to pay out $1,060,000. (corrected from my earlier post of a unanimous vote for $1,125,000)

On the plus side, the council did approve a motion to add at least one member of the public to a audit review subcommittee and to start the public notice process to enact a moratorium on future undergrounding projects.

Watch the meeting on KCOM repeats or watch online. Read more about this issue.  Leave a comment or vote in our poll below.

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“Infuriating” “Bumbling” “Incompetent” “Malfeasance” “Debacle” “Brouhaha”

Posted by Len Gilbert on February 5, 2010

OK, the title of this post is a bit obtuse, but they are all words used around town to describe Piedmont’s two undergrounding districts. Both the Sea View and Piedmont Hills Undergrounding Districts are mired in controversy and costs. Unfortunately, the city is again considering spending taxpayer monies to bail out a beautification project that benefits only a handful of Piedmont residents.

Because of a large number of project management errors, “massive discrepancies” in measurements of unfinished work, “significantly miscalculated values of contract work credits”, and general mismanagement, the “staff” wants the council to approve an additional $1,150,000 in CIP funds to the PHUD private undergrounding project. This would bring the total of city taxpayer costs to over $2,154,000. That’s a whole lot of money, especially in these tough economic times. If approved, Piedmont’s CIP fund of $1.8 million is being targeted for the $1.15 million dollars of additional bailout. That pretty much empties the CIP reserves.

Next, I’d like to get you thinking about the ongoing use of the term “staff” in a vague and accountability-dodging pattern. “Staff” is intentionally used to avoid singling out individuals. I propose that the council stop referring to “staff” except in the most general terms, such as when referring to the staff as a whole. When a specific person or persons in roles of responsibility continue to make these kinds of errors, the taxpayers deserve to know the names of those individuals and their role or job title, and whether they are truly “staff” or just contractors. We pay their salaries. To do otherwise reflects poorly on the many city staff who do excellent jobs for our city. If a staff member is doing excellent work, let’s also call them out by name and recognize their good work.

Finally, I keep thinking of this quote from Network. Maybe you have too.  I’m paraphrasing Howard Beale (played by Academy Award winner Peter Finch) here:

I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s work, banks are going bust or getting huge bailouts. We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my HD TV and my Superbowl Sunday commercials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’ Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot – I don’t want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and heath care and Iraq and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad.

You’ve got to say, ‘I’m a Piedmonter!” So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, “‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’ I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell – ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad!… You’ve got to say, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and undergrounding, and school budget shortfalls, and Blair Park. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: [screaming at the top of his lungs] “I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”

I know that even if you’ve never seen the movie, you probably are feeling a bit like Howard Beale. I know I am.

(Note: the above Network quote is political parody which will hopefully at least get you to smile a bit in the midst of this undergrounding fiasco or maybe you’ll put Network in your Netflix queue. Best of all would be for you to attend the council meeting on Sat, February 6th, 11am)

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