I attended several recent Livermore City Council meetings regarding downtown redevelopment of the core of the City, now vacant land. The Council recently approved a Development Agreement with a hotel developer that, unless blocked, would negate the qualified Citizens’ Initiative for a larger Central Park downtown. What is to be said about a Council that will resort to any means to thwart the will of the people they were elected to represent?
I believe each of the Council members is individually a decent and honorable person who cares about our city. However, something strange happens when they get together. Instead of group wisdom coming to the fore, it is group stupidity and malfeasance that is demonstrated.
As I listened to public speakers present sensible reasons to change course on Council plans for downtown, I watched councilmembers’ faces to see if I could discern the effect of the speakers’ words. My impression was that nobody was listening. I imagined mental wheels turning as councilmembers planned their pre-conceived statements. When public testimony was finished and it was the turn for councilmembers to speak, it was clear that public hearings are a sham, required by law, which councilmembers must tolerate.
A case in point is Councilman Bob Woerner. All will agree he is an intelligent person. Perhaps clever is a more apt word. In reference to the Citizen’s Initiative that would allow for a large central park, Woerner asked of the City Attorney the same carefully-crafted question at two separate Council meetings: Does the development agreement prevent a vote of the people on the initiative? City Attorney Jason Alcala answered flatly and factually: No! Nothing prevents a vote of the people. Left unsaid is that the vote would be meaningless! With a development agreement in place and deal made before the vote, the agreement takes precedence. If Woerner were looking for the truth instead of affirmation of his position, he would have asked, “What are the implications of signing a development agreement if the initiative is approved by the voters?”
At the final meeting when development agreements were discussed, I asked the Council to have staff re-write all development agreements to be inclusive of both the Council plan and the Citizens’ Initiative plan. That way, there would be no delay in moving ahead and all bases would be covered. Not one councilmember spoke to that suggestion. It was another audience member who endorsed the idea, to no effect. The Council voted 5-0 to approve the development agreement consistent with the Council plan and which excludes the Citizens’ Initiative plan for a larger central park.
That is the reason all people registered to vote in Livermore should sign the referendum now being circulated that would negate the Council’s premature decision to approve a development agreement that is counter to the Citizens’ initiative. If you want to have a meaningful vote on the Central Park Plan, please sign the latest referendum petition to protect your vote.