Claycord – Talk About Local Politics

January 4, 2019 19:00 pm · 13 comments


This special post is “Talk About LOCAL Politics”.

Please use this post to talk about LOCAL politics, and keep state and national politics out of this thread.

Thank you, and be kind to each other.

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Concord Mike January 8, 2019 at 10:11 PM

Watching the city council meeting. Presentation by developer Avalon Bay which hopes to build a large apartment/mixed use building downtown (where the white picket fencing/Bermuda triangle for cars is located).

Developer faced demands from union members for a PLA, and also from affordable housing advocates for subsidies for affordable units.

This is a classic zero sum game scenario. Give the unions what they want, you don’t get affordable housing and vice versa. Of course the developer wants neither – they want to maximize profits.

Nothing wrong with these three interests – higher wages, improved affordability, capitalist profits are all good things. Too bad they all feel the need to push political levers in order to gain advantage instead of negotiating in good faith.

Would be better to send this to some sort of mediation to negotiate a compromise. City council meetings are not the place for detailed analysis and negotiations.

I also dislike the use/abuse of CEQA rules to bully developers. That tactic can slow or stop the construction of new housing we are told we desperately need.

Winston January 9, 2019 at 8:34 PM

PLA’s are deadweight loss. They just drive up costs with no benefit to the public. Similarly, “affordable” housing (paid for by the developer) just reduces the amount of homes produced, driving up prices for ordinary people. If we want housing to be more affordable overall then we shouldn’t mandate it be built by union slugs nor be set aside for welfare recipients.

KAD January 8, 2019 at 10:51 PM

I watched the Concord City Council meeting as well. It just ended in total chaos. The Mayor adjourned the meeting without the rent control/unjust cause eviction ad hoc committed being voted on. Does she think this is the end of people yelling at the City Council? I think not. The City is moving too slowly and everyone is upset. This has been going on for 2 – 3 years and NOTHING has been accomplished except people getting evicted or have huge rent increases.

Concord Mike January 9, 2019 at 6:59 AM


What I saw was a group of organized activists demanding truly unreasonable actions (less than two weeks is not enough time for staff to put together any kind of credible “moratorium” legislation), and then shouting down the council to the point where they had to end the meeting.

Adding insult to injury was the embarrassing, unhinged rant by one activist pastor insulting the council members personal faith.

Definitely a low point for the rent control/just cause movement. I hope the leaders go back to council members and apologize.

Hope Johnson January 9, 2019 at 9:40 AM

No vote is required to form an ad hoc committee. The mayor has complete control over them and only needs to appoint members. The rent one from last night was up and running as soon as Obringer named herself and Aliano on it. Obringer’s leanings toward ad hoc committees demonstrates a real lack of transparency. Ad hoc committees are not required to postage agendas or meet in public. She asked Birsan to do the same thing when he was mayor so she could meet in private with union leaders and Lennar to work on the CNWS. She doesn’t want you to know what’s going on.

Hope Johnson January 9, 2019 at 9:59 AM

I thought the people who were chanting at the end of the meeting were upset because Council and staff act like each time a moratorium is requested, it’s the first time it’s ever been brought up. Council has been discussing this since at least 2016. I recall a lengthy discussion about it just before an item on selecting the master developer at the Senior Center back in late 2015 or early 2016. That’s how long they have had to start putting options together. Plus Birsan has been bringing this up for many years before that. Very frustrating for them to pretend they have only two week’s notice.

Everyone got upset when Obringer wanted to show involvement meeting with renters so they could ban smoking in apartments. She wanted that to go to committee right away. That’s when the chanting started. I think smoking is a good issue to take on but it seemed so shallow compared to people being evicted when it’s so hard to find an affordable place to live. Plus Kenji mentioned that a member of the Rent Review Board Council formed had to resign because he or she was evicted and couldn’t find a place in Concord, obviously demonstrating this board isnt the answer. I thought the people seemed upset that evictions were taking another backseat delay to a less urgent issue that Council felt more comfortable addressing.

Lars Anderson January 9, 2019 at 12:48 PM

I would agree it’s important to be civil at meetings, but the Concord City Council and city officials move at the speed of a 600 pound slug on just about everything. I have never seen a city move so slowly.
How long have we’ve been talking about a new library in Concord to replace our dated rat-trap facility – built in 1959? Forever. Other cities, like Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Clayton, and now Pleasant Hill – have gorgeous new libraries up and running or in the planning stages (P.H), yet in Concord nothing ever happens on the library front. Simple common sense tells you the problem is bad leadership on the council. How hard is it to build a library?
I blame Laura Hoffmiester for the inertia you see in Concord. She has been on the council forever – decades now – and she has got almost nothing to show for her work. Her biggest accomplishment in her decades on the council is building a new bathroom at Ellis Park!
I think the fact that she holds down this do-nothing-make-work job at the City of Clayton has a lot of influence on her. Since she does nothing all day at her job at the City of Clayton but push a few papers around the office and talk on the phone – she has the cushy job of all time -84,000 a year to do nothing all day – she brings that same spirit of inaction and inactivity to her job as a council person in Concord. At the city of Clayton Hoffmiester just kind of goes through the motions of working, same thing at Concord.
If Hoffmiester worked for the City of San Francisco, for example, she would learn that cities actually do things. Cities build low income housing, they provide recreation programs, they build and maintain libraries, they work to improve parks. They find housing for the homeless. The typical official that works at the City of SF has a hundreds of problems they have to deal with on a daily basis – city officials have to figure out a way to solve these problems, or at least try. That’s why we have local government – to solve problems, to improve the community, to make the community a better place.
But thanks to Laura Hoffmiester almost nothing ever get’s done in Concord. While Hoffmiester appears to be “working”, she is really just going through the motions of “work”. She looks like she is working, yet there are no outcomes for her work, at all.
Hoffmiester, in fact, has it down to a science – just keep promising residents someday – many years in the future – Concord will get a new library, or better rec programs or a state college or wonderful new low income housing projects or whatever. Hoffmiesters strategy is pie-in-the-sky next week, next month, next year, or next decade.
In the interim residents get nothing for our tax dollars. We taxpayers get to watch Hoffmiester and her cronies pass out these big fat raises to city workers, raises that are – arguably – not deserved since city paper pushers can’t figure out how to do anything, such as build a new library.
Personally, I don’t think anything will ever get done in Concord until we get Hoffmiester, and those like her, off the council. She really sets the tone for this council, her do-nothingness permeates the council and the entire body politic of our city. Really, all Hoffmiester does – and wants to do – is to give city employees raises, hang on to her job as a council person, and keep her work load low.

Forsythe January 10, 2019 at 7:51 AM

I am waiting for the Jan 8th meeting to be posted on the City of Concord’s website. It sounds as though it is well worth watching.

Concord Mike January 10, 2019 at 9:09 AM


Go to minute 32:45 on agenda item 9 to hear a community activist, David Brazil (sp) berate the city council. He claims to be a Christian pastor but his angry, insulting diatribe makes that claim hard to believe.

As a Christian I cringe when I see other professing Christians behave this way…following the Sal Alynsky community organizer model of insults and intimidation instead of taking the high road. I hope he apologizes to the council.

Forsythe January 10, 2019 at 5:02 PM

@Concord Mike.

Thanks. I viewed agenda item 9, and I agree with you. It is sad to see that there is a fringe element on the left that is becoming increasingly disruptive. They really aren’t interested in finding ways to help renters. They are simply looking for soap boxes. It will take a lot of cooperation and creativity to address the growing housing shortage in Concord.

Lars Anderson January 10, 2019 at 2:36 PM

Concord Mike, The Concord City council has a long history of only listening to special interest groups, so I myself can appreciate the frustration many have when they are trying to get low income housing built, or a new library built, or quality youth programs funded or arts programs etc.
As I have been reporting, the City of Concord is a city steeped in municipal corruption. The people working a the city have plotted, schemed, and conspired to inflate their salaries and benefit packages into the stratosphere. This is especially true at the police department, the folks that work at the PD have worked behind the scenes to “rig” the city budget to shower money on the officers, even though Concord has little serious crime.
Because of this Concord, as I have been reporting, has among the highest pay and benefit packages of any city in California. The median wage Concord city workers make is 154,000 – that’s pay and benefits combined – which is 20,000 more per worker than Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek pay their city workers. Half of all city employees make more than 154,000 If you go on the Transparent California web site – the site that tracks all city pay up and down the state – you will find almost no city in the state pays the fantastic budget draining salaries that Concord is paying.
Interestingly, Concord does not fund a fire department, a special district funds the fire services. Because Concord does not have to pay the salaries of fire fighters, the median average pay of city workers should be much lower than it is today.
Firefighters, as many know, make a ton of money – they are famous for enjoying high salaries and also famous for racking up tons of OT. Normally having to pay for police and fire services in a city will drive the average pay of city workers in a city way up, Concord is spared that, but the police labor union has taken advantage of the fact that Concord doesn’t fund a fire department – they have worked behind the scenes to inflate the salaries of PD officers and the police brass to mind boggling levels, which cancels out the “savings” Concord should enjoy because a special district handles the fire department.
So even though Concord doesn’t have to pay for fire fighters, the city is actually paying out – for public safety – about the same as many cities in California are paying for a PD and a fire department. I have looked at numerous city budgets in other cities in California and I am finding many cities pay like 60% of the city budget for police AND fire. In Concord, the Concord PD drains 60% of the budget, much of that money going to pay these inflated salaries you see at the PD, along with the budget draining pensions.
One of the reasons this municipal corruption goes on in Concord – year after year unchecked – is because it’s the PD that is doing it. Many, understandably, have a lot of sympathy for our police officers, they have a tough job, it’s a dangerous job too sometimes, you can make a strong case PD officers should be paid well, but the pay packages over at the PD have ballooned to such a point the city of Concord is forever on the cusp of bleeding red ink, even when the economy is booming, as it is today.
Interestingly, public policy experts are reporting that crime – serious crime – peaked in California in 1992, they report our state has 50% less serious crime in 2019. Given this, why is the City of Concord pouring astronomical amounts of money into the PD? With crime rates at record lows you would think our city council and City manager would say, “Hey, let’s turn our attention to getting a new library, lets build some low income housing for the working poor, let’s build a teen center, let’s turn our attention away from the PD – we’ve taken good care of the PD for many years, time to focus on other things”.
While that’s what city leaders should be saying, they are not doing that because the PD labor union “runs” the city behind the scenes. If Valerie Barone tried to cut a single management position at the PD she would be out of a job fast, the stakes are very, very high for these people that work at the PD. If a Sgt. can get a LT’s job or a Captain job – boy the pensions really get fabulous then.
I should mention, to justify the gargantuan pay packages at the PD periodically the PD brass gives these ridiculous dramatic press conferences where they talk about Concord’s growing ” gang problem” or they call attention to some murder they claim is a “gangland slaying” or they talk about “drive by shootings”. While they talk about these mysterious gangs, they never identify who are the gangs are, nor do they tell us how many gang members there are, or where they live.
Concord, in fact, is not a dangerous city. We have some crime, but not a lot, and most of the crime is petty, shoplifting at the mall, car break-ins and stuff. There is little justification for the obscene spending going on at the PD in Concord, what you are seeing is municipal corruption wrapped in the flag of “public safety”.

Hope Johnson January 10, 2019 at 7:57 PM

Lennar is selling off a large portion of its holdings at Mare Island. I guess they squeezed as much public funds out as possible without doing much ($900M in public pension investments at least) and they figure it’s time to can move fully on to the next sucker – Concord.

Giddyup January 11, 2019 at 3:28 AM

Renters could go a long way toward helping themselves by not approving every special-interest bond measure that comes along. They end up on your landlord’s property taxes forcing him to raise the rent.

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