Claycord – Talk About Local Politics

May 22, 2020 19:00 pm · 29 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.

Please Note: Users who use multiple names will be deleted. Please choose a name so others can easily chat with you. Users must provide a name in the ‘name field’, please do not use the ‘@’ symbol in the name field.

Sam May 22, 2020 at 7:09 PM

Why do we have a “city manager” or “executive officer”? Shouldn’t we have a real mayor (elected) By the people? I see all the same faces on rotation as mayor on the city council for years..except for 1. Why don’t we elect a person to run things and take responsibility and layout their vision for our direction as a city. This city of concord political structure seems to be deliberately convoluted with goals that are not fully transparent to the public with no accountability.

Sancho Panza May 22, 2020 at 11:18 PM

Sam, I thought you were referencing Clayton…I think it’s time both cities considered the Charter City form of government whereby mayors are elected…after all, now is the time to ‘re-Imagine’ our cities post covid-19, right?

Sam May 23, 2020 at 10:20 AM

I noticed Edi Brisan follows the boards. Maybe he could give his input as a city leader?

The Wizard May 22, 2020 at 7:59 PM

I agree

Rolaids May 23, 2020 at 7:56 AM

We should have proportional representation according to gender identity. If racial parity was the goal of the recent switch to council districts, why not gender?

Natalie May 23, 2020 at 9:47 AM

Even cities with elected mayors have city managers. There will always be administrative tasks best handled by a city manager, freeing up the mayor to do other duties. A city manager is bounded by ordinances set by city council, even in Concord. Our city manager isn’t just out there doing whatever she wants, or scheming without transparency and accountability. Our city manager doesn’t set the cities goals, the council does.

Many cities have ceremonial mayors. Our mayor’s job is to preside of council meetings, and to represent Concord. With a ceremonial yearly rotating mayoral system, there can’t be 1 person who veers the city towards their agenda. Swapping mayors every year and limiting the power of the mayoral position makes it harder to do backroom deals, and reduces the temptation of corruption. I’ve lived in a city with elected mayors, who get to set their vision, and that system of government isn’t more transparent nor is it more accountable. It’s a system wrought with developers and companies working behind the scenes with a mayor to work their agenda over 4 year cycles. The relationship between the mayor and council persons often got very tense.

It might possibly be better for residents if council persons either had full time positions, or had council assistants working during the day at city hall. Concord doesn’t have the budget for either of these options. We have a system where being a council person is a part time job, along with the other professional lives that council members have.This gives council less time to do meet with constituents, less time to do research, and less time to work on drafting proposals.

Sam May 23, 2020 at 10:46 AM

Tense is good. Pressure is good. You mention 4 year cycles, yet fail to acknowledge concord has the same issues with developers and companies. Also failing to mention the fact that we have had the same council members shuffled around for many many years. If we elected a mayor who we choose on his vision, we would have a clearer picture who is working for what. So I’m not really buying your position on accountability. I think accountability is difficult any way it done. The question then becomes which way is most transparent?

Recall 'Em All May 23, 2020 at 6:47 PM


Sam May 23, 2020 at 8:35 PM

Possibly his?..I actually did mean their but autocorrect..blame apple

Recall 'Em All May 24, 2020 at 8:14 PM

Excuse of the week, Sam?

Hope Johnson May 23, 2020 at 12:27 PM

Only support an elected mayor if there are term limits. How would you like to have the same mayor for the same amount of time you have had Laura Hoffmeister on council?

Sam May 23, 2020 at 2:41 PM

Term limits are a must. All across all politics

Cowellian May 23, 2020 at 3:04 PM

I am much less of a supporter of term limits than I once was. The only worthwhile thing term limits has accomplished in California was removing Willie Brown as Assembly Speaker. Otherwise, it has just turned California politics into a game of musical chairs. Everyone waits their turn and then takes the next expected position.

Lars Anderson May 26, 2020 at 10:52 AM

Yes, term limits are really needed in Concord. Laura Hoffmiester has been on the council for decades, she’s been Mayor probably 4 times now. Really, Hoffmiester has been the “face” of Concord for many, many years due to the fact she has been on the council forever.
Significantly, Hoffmiester has done almost nothing during her years on the council. I would describe her as a do nothing “caretaker” council person. Usually she just “parrots” whoever the city manager happens to be at the time, she’s famous for saying “that’s right” whenever a city manager tells residents the city is broke, or going broke.
Concord, under Hoffmiester’s leadership, is broke today, broke tomorrow, broke forever. Residents get nothing from our city anymore but policing. And we had to tax ourselves even more – pass a bond – to even get that.
In my view, Hoffmiester’s primary motivation for sitting on the council – year after year – is financial. She likes the regular paycheck coming from Concord, plus the health benefits, and the pension benefits. This money augments Hoffmiester’s job as a City of Clayton paper pusher.
Also, Hoffmiester is power mad – she has this situation going where she can influence public policy in two cities, Concord and Clayton. The power mad Hoffmiester likes being in the middle of decisions being made in two cities.
However, it you look at her work in Concord it has been absolutely terrible. Hoffmiester has accomplished almost nothing in her years on the council! I think the only thing she has ever done is build a bathroom at Ellis Lake park.
Hoffmiester can’t figure out how to build a new library in Concord, or a teen center, or a theater for dramatic plays, nor can she find the money for programs for children or quality recreation programs either (Concord has bare bones programs in both areas, just enough to make it “look good”).
The Navy base deal – Hoffmiester screwed that up big time, along with her close buddy and pal Guy Bejerke. Hoffmiester tried, and failed, to get a state college sighted in Concord, and more recently the deal to develop the blighted Coast Guard property has fallen apart. The Pavilion, once Concord’s crown jewel, has been run into the ground – it’s just a shell of what is once was – under Hoffmiester bumbling leadership (they now feature “Tribute Bands” at the Pavilion!)
Under Hoffmiester’s leadership Concord has become a failed city – we are failing at everything. The only area where the City of Concord excels today is in the area of public salaries; Concord’s city workers – who were paid moderately when Bud Stewart ran the city, are among the highest paid in the state of California!
Yes, I think we need term limits. The longer Hoffmiester stays on the council the worse it is going to get in Concord. A recall is really in order for her, and other council members. Concord is a failing city, and it will continue to fail unless we voters can figure out a way to get some new blood on that council, people that know how to get stuff done. We have got to get these do-nothing caretakers off the council.

Hope Johnson May 26, 2020 at 12:42 PM

Concord’s politics is already a game of musical chairs. They go from Monument Crisis Center Board to Planning Commission to Council. If needed, they’ll fill a chair with one of their own from the 1970’s (enter Helix). That’s why Council didn’t want to include Birsan in their game of musical chairs by voting him to Vice Mayor/Mayor in his proper order – he broke their musical chairs rule.

Not sure what is meant by states without term limits take more money but California gets a lot of cash from the Feds (as well as giving a lot). So no evidence to support that.

Merely allowing an elected Mayor in Concord would not mean any laws would change; it would just give the Mayor bully pulpit power. Any other powers would have to be specifically enumerated and incorporated into municipal laws. This is precisely why term limits are needed here. The last thing Concord needs is the same Mayor for 23 years. Term limits could be staggered so no one person would ever be prohibited from election forever. Say no more tan two consecutive terms – someone could serve two 4-year terms then would be required to wait at least one or terms to run again. Beware any elected official who disagrees with staggered term limits.

Rolaids May 23, 2020 at 6:21 PM

I think Martinez has had the same mayor since like before I hit puberty. He may or may not be a good mayor, but I’m kinda skeptical that that situation reflects a healthy electoral process.

Bob Foo May 23, 2020 at 6:47 PM

Good point. But maybe it reflects more that the community itself, or at least the voters thereof, are relatively satisfied or they don’t feel their problems come from the mayor’s office.

Lazy One May 23, 2020 at 8:56 PM

Martinez needs new leadership. The mayor has been there too long. Same people run the city for years. Clean up the marina and downtown. Quit building and watch property values go up. Move the homeless to another area away from downtown and residential areas.. It has so much to offer but can’t live up to its potential because of lack of leadership.

Bob Foo May 24, 2020 at 5:26 PM

@ Lazy One:

I’ll look past the NIMBYism because that’s a huge can of worms to open. But besides that, you have great ideas. I just don’t know how any of them would actually be executed.

Edi Birsan May 24, 2020 at 5:56 PM

The issue of a Directly Elected Mayor gets several components that people draw into the topic

1. What power should it have?

2. Regardless of the level of power should we have it?

The first item is a matter of great variations, we have directly elected mayors in General Law Cities which still have the Strong City Manager system of running a city already in: Martinez, Antioch and Brentwood. Then we have the stronger Mayor interface with City Staff in places like the Charter Cities of Richmond and San Ramon. There can be term limits in all these variations as set by the people. Term Limits are a universal issue not restricted to this position and can be a diversion from the central issue of who decides what?

The second item is for me, more to the crux of the issue.

I have advocated for a directly elected mayor for the last ten years in public office politics. I believe that the people not the politics of the 5 Councilmembers should decide who gets what when. Note that defined rotation by ordinance has been offered repeatedly by me to take some of the back-room politics out of the process until we can get a directly elected mayor. All efforts at an ordinance have FAILED.

(Note an Ordinance is different than a Policy- Walnut Creek had a Policy statement on Office Rotation and simply and publicly ignored it when they had a conflict of politics/)

Remember that moving to a directly elected mayor means you are taking the power of the choice away from the 5 members of the Council and putting it into the people. It does NOT mean that there are no politics involved, it is after all , then an open political race like all others. I prefer that sort of choice method. I am biased to the extent that clearly I was purposely prevented from being mayor for years as a matter of political retaliation that is well documented on You-Tube.

Having failed to get 3 votes to put it on the ballot for the people to decide, I tried several years ago to get it on the ballot by petition. It required 7000 signatures and I was unable to get them in the 6 months period gaining about 1/2 through volunteer efforts. Paid gatherers was needed but the cost was going up to $10 a signature from the more normal cost of $1-2 and I did not have the money at any rate.

During the conversion to districts, there was a golden opportunity to have by simple ordinance the declaration of a Directly Elected Mayor. Once again the Council by a 4-1 decided against it. In fairness it was also opposed by a few of the neighborhood groups who felt that directly elected mayor was “undemocratic” because in their view ALL at large elections are political corruptions and not the reflection of the people but of the impact of money in politics and that the people are simply bought in mass as opposed to officials being bought individually.

I do not agree.

Currently we can only get a Directly Elected Mayor by putting it on the ballot. That can be done by majority vote of the Council or by forced petition.

Anyway, the current and past Council have also been opposed to a directly elected mayor (regardless of power level of the position), even when it could be done without the cost of an election.

I will again be bringing this up for the Council to decide on putting it for this November. It will be opposed and the common excuses will be “It will cost too much”, “It is only a paper position”, etc. All of which is really a shame argument:

Simply put:
The power to choose is not given up by the majority of the choosers
once they have it.

These threads can get very weird on Claycord, so do not expect me to engage in the usual Flame Out that I see here. If you want more info or what to go over solutions write to me:

PS why I have your attention (all ten of you) please take my Covid-19 survey at

Recall 'Em All May 24, 2020 at 8:10 PM

You ,make it sound as if the magic wand could change the city charter – it cannot.
To have a City government that elects a mayor, rather than the City Manager/Council model we currently have, is a huge undertaking. Right now, we cannot afford to fix streets – we face a pension deficit that could bankrupt us.
Why would you not take up an issue that is more dire?

Sam May 25, 2020 at 6:49 AM

In other words, you’re the only honest person we have in Concord. Thanks for your service

Anew May 24, 2020 at 8:25 PM

Edi, when is Concord going to open up again? I get that CC County has one of the strictest and more anal entities involved in deciding all this, but what’s going on? Other counties and states are at least letting restaurants have open air dining. Lots of parks are opening elsewhere. Even many schools are starting to reopen. More of the elderly are dying of not seeing their doctor than are getting the virus. Why isn’t Concord doing more to push back against these goons?

Lars Anderson May 26, 2020 at 6:17 PM

The City of Concord has done NOTHING to mitigate the negative impacts of the pandemic on Concord residents, business owners, or the elderly. Our cities only response is to put out a few press releases, two of which are re-written county press releases.
The cities only real response to this horrific pandemic is to give all City of Concord employees, except for people that work at the PD, paid holidays, which city workers are using to shop online furiously, taking advantage of all these great sales going on online.. There is absolutely nothing going on at the city, it’s a ghost town.
If anybody can tell me something Mayor Tim McGallian, or City Manger Valerie Barone has done to deal with all the multitude of problems the pandemic has caused for residents – such as the problem senior citizens are have getting the operations they need done, I am open to listening.
The two of them, McGallian, and Barone – have been awfully quiet during the pandemic. Certainly you are not seeing the kind of dynamic leadership you are seeing from Newsom, or Mayor Breed in SF. When a crises is happening, that’s the time for leadership, yet McGallian and Barone have turned into Sphinxes.
The State of California, and the federal government, have really come through for pandemic sufferers – just read the papers; Newsom and Trump have really done the job for their constituents.
Stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment. aid for college students, aid for hospitals, billions for vaccine research, money for state governments etc. etc. . At the state level leaders have found a multitude of ways to assist people who have been impacted, numerous laws have been passed , really creative laws – it’s really been interesting to watch.
Some local cities, like Hayward and Berkeley and San Francisco have set up funds to help local residents weather the pandemic storm. San Francisco has, according to Mayor Breed, spent 380 million dollars on the pandemic, Trump, as most know has come up with like 4 trillion for pandemic sufferers (more on the way they say), while Newsom says he’s spent 40 billion on the pandemic.
How much has Concord spent? NOTHING. There are no programs at all to aid pandemic victims, the city has no strategy whatsoever to deal with the pandemic. The cities response can be found on the city of Concord web site, three press releases.City employees are doing no work at all that pertains to the pandemic, nothing!
Concord, in fact, has just declared the city a disaster zone and then given all these city employees a holiday. When you compare all this great stuff going on at the state level, and federal level – which has involved an incredible amount of hard work, – and then you look at Concord’s response – giving all these city employees a big long holiday which has turned city hall into a ghost town, the response just couldn’t be more striking.
Why has the city done nothing? I can answer that question. In Concord, as I keep reporting, all the City is only interested in arresting and jailing residents, as many as possible, in the most expensive way the city can arrest them (lowly patrolman at he PD can make 280K a year investigating car break ins, dispatchers can make 100K and up answering the phone calls of car break in victims). Pandemic victims, of course, have nobody to call at the City of Concord!
I am getting attacked for repeatedly bringing this up, but somebody has got to do it. What kind of city is Concord? I think that’s a question all residents ought to be asking.
The failed response to the pandemic, the failure to build a new library – the short shifting of kids programs, allowing the Pavilion to get run into the ground – all of these things are part of a broad pattern of incredibly bad leadership that has plagued our city. Our city is being run into the ground.
This group running our city today, McGallian, Obringer, Hoffmiester, Barone – are the worst I’ve ever seen. Just a bunch of heartless, soul-less do nothing bureaucrats who collect paychecks and do no work for the money. Just check all the work they are doing on the pandemic. None!

Edi Birsan May 25, 2020 at 9:36 AM

@ Recall em all
You are incorrect, Concord is a General Law City.
Under the state terms and traditions, a General Law City by vote of the people on a ballot measure can create a directly elected mayor. This was the method that was done in the other General Law cities in Contra Costa that have directly elected mayors.

A Charter City, means that first the people must vote to change to a Charter. If that charter does not have a provision for a directly elected mayor (*I cannot think of any that does not have a directly elected mayor) then the charter would have to be amended by the vote of the people.

There are only two ways to get something on the ballot currently: the vote of the Council to put it there or a petition drive by the people *(takes 7000 signatures about in Concord of registered voters here) .

Recall 'Em All May 25, 2020 at 4:58 PM

Thanks for the response.
Taking attention by Council or Citizens is a resource that I don’t think is of the utmost importance – Simple as you make it sound.
It is also important to know that the results under a directly elected Mayor may not be different. Changing some of the leadership may make a difference. We will see how the new Chief of Police does. Maybe that sets the tone for a change in City Manager.

Sam May 25, 2020 at 1:42 PM

The council needs to put it on the ballot. I understand each member needs phone calls. It’s not going to be possible going door to door with everyone tucked away in fear of germs. The fact that nobody is willing to put it up and let the people have a say is disturbing.

Old Mr. Rodgers May 25, 2020 at 4:05 PM

“Note that defined rotation by ordinance has been offered repeatedly by me to take some of the back-room politics out of the process until we can get a directly elected mayor.”

Cellophane May 26, 2020 at 4:07 PM

Newsom said today that voting by mail is safe and honest and has been used for decades.

And he’s right about part of that anyhow.

When voting by mail was opened up to anyone who wanted to vote by mail, the state went from red to blue in one election.

Safe, honest, fraudulent free only in the eyes of the Democrats.

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