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By Roz Rogoff

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About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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New Observer, er Watcher, in San Ramon

Uploaded: Jun 30, 2011
Steve O'Brien started his San Ramon Watch blog last October. I started the San Ramon Observer almost 10 years ago. We both stated the same reasons for starting our online commentaries.

My San Ramon Observer website came out of my original "Stop the Sewer" website, in which I tried to get support to relocate the 10 million gallon Dougherty Valley sewer from my neighborhood to Dougherty Valley where it belonged. We got the sewer, the 20 million gallon-a-day pumping station, and two sewage spills over the last eight years. This is why I don't trust Contra Costa County to do what is right for San Ramon.

I felt the local newspapers didn't cover this fairly, and the newly elected Council members, Donna Dickey and Jerry Cambra, who ran against the sewer, changed their positions right after being elected. So I started the San Ramon Observer on January 18, 2002.

In a commentary I wrote a year later, I described the Observer as, ". . . a one-stop place for all information about the City, what's happening in local government, issues, community groups, and events."

Steve O'Brien wrote in his initial blog entry in October 27, 2010, "With 'San Ramon Watch' I plan to continue to investigate and expose issues that I think are worthy of concern from residents. Some of my initial postings will pick up the trail of stories I started on Save Tassajara Valley."

O'Brien and I have very different takes on the City Council, but we both agree they need watching. After the "Gang of Three," left office at the end of 2003, I continued the Observer.

I explained "Why I'm still here," in January, 2006. "I started the Observer to inform residents, and especially voters, about what City Government is up to. Residents of my neighborhood were upset that they were not informed about plans for the Dougherty Valley sewer until it was too late to prevent it. These are the kind of things residents should be aware of."

I'm not anti-growth, and I am in favor of property rights, but I believe impacts of growth should be understood by residents and mitigated or prevented when possible.

O'Brien believes growth should be controlled or limited and he has stated that he is a conservationist and environmentalist. It's good to know where someone's opinions are coming from when you read them.

I have never kept my positions a secret, and I wonder why Mr. O'Brien criticized me in my own blog about having opinions.

"Roz- sorry, but you really are too cozy with this council to call yourself a reporter. The stories you do are really meeting notes. That said, I do appreciate getting at least that level of 'what happened at the meeting' information from you."

I didn't call myself a reporter. The Editor of the Express at that time had me reporting on meetings, but I called myself an Opinion writer or in the newer parlance, a blogger.

Mr. O'Brien was just recently criticized in that other online paper named after a pirate's eyewear (It's our competition), for lacking "balanced and objectivity," in his blog announcing Phil O'Loane's candidacy for City Council. Hey we are both doing the same thing, Steve.

Mr. O'Brien's prior commentary on Phil O'Loane's backbone for writing a letter to the County opposing the New Farm development criticizes the City Council as "invertebrates." I like clever verbiage, and O'Brien writes well. However, it doesn't take any backbone to write a letter to the County on a development project that hasn't progressed very far, and the City Council will have an opportunity to comment on New Farm once the Draft EIR is completed and the official comment period opens.

That could take a year or more and the Council makeup could change, especially now that Mr. O'Loane has announced he's running for City Council. I suspect, that O'Loane's courageous letter, and Mr. O'Brien's praise of it, are more for political showmanship than stopping a development that isn't anywhere near being approved yet.

We may be coming at it from opposite sides of the mountain, but we are both expressing our observations on what's happening in San Ramon. I hope readers will read both blogs and make decisions based on perceptions of what is best for San Ramon.

Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Steve O'Brien, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jul 1, 2011 at 5:56 am

Roz- I couldn't agree more that we are both opinion writers, not reporters. I trust most readers realize that. You made a comment a while back that we've got pretty good real reporters covering the city now and I agree. Their stories are true news. I would point readers to those articles if they want the unfiltered facts which is always a good place to start in understanding any issue. Regarding the comment I made about your writing being opinions vs reporting quite a while ago, I think if you trace back the timing you'll find your stories were being presented as "news" by the Express (front page even if I recall correctly??). Your style during that period was also more "newsy". I found that misleading for readers trying to get educated on W and told you so. Shortly after I made that comment I believe you announced the relaunch of your Observer blog and how you were happy to get back to opinion writing. So I think in context my comments at that time must have resonated with you. Although I don't agree with many of your positions as you indicate, I absolutely appreciate all points of view. I will also say that ANYONE who takes the time to become involved or educated about our city, no matter where they stand on things, gets a tip of the hat from me. -Steve


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Renae Wilber, a resident of San Ramon,
on Sep 15, 2011 at 10:30 pm

I just came across this and find it interesting that Roz would consider herself a "one-stop place for all information," as if her word is the one and only word, unbiased of course, for the San Ramon community. As a library paraprofessinal, I know enough to know that there is never a one-stop shop for all information...even in the public library. Contra Costa County has 25+ branches and even then would never profess to have all information. In fact, Link+ was established so that we could "borrow" information from other libraries, mainly academic, to offer items we don't carry. In addition, just because a library is ten years old, hardly makes it "the best." As Roz states, she started the San Ramon Observer ten years ago. This means nothing to me. Sometimes, the newest libraries have the most updated information. Roz's argument offers nothing more than a transparent desire to be "Queen Bee" when in fact, she can't admit, that there are many, many avenues to collect information, and she can't possibly have them all, nor are the ones that she professes to have all accurate. I, personally, find her need to continually retort to the position of others to be ego based and petty at best. And she is supposed to be some sort of "teacher" of critical thinking? More like, someone who doesn't understand and appreciate the point of views of others without a dire need to be right.

I do very much appreciate Steve O'Brien's insights and comments that he tips his hat to "ANYONE who takes the time to become involved or educated about our city, no matter where they stand on things...". This tells me that unlike Roz, he is not offended by opposing viewpoints, but appreciates diversity in thought.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Cynthia Ruehlig, a resident of another community,
on Dec 28, 2011 at 11:40 am

On December 6, 2011, the Board of Supervisors adopted election procedures for Prop 218, a new property related fee which will be imposed throughout Contra Costa County. This is apparently a parcel tax disguised as a "Clean Water Fee".

A public hearing to discuss the proposed fee has been scheduled for February 7, 2012. Written notices were allegedly mailed in mid-December 2011 to record owners of each identified parcel (or everyone who owns property in Contra Costa County).

At the public hearing, the Board will consider all protests against this fee. If written protests are presented by a majority of property owners, then the fee will not be imposed. Otherwise, ballots will be mailed 45 days prior to election close date of April 6, 2012. A majority vote by mail-in voters is sufficient to impose this new fee.

The election process to approve Prop 218 is a farce. It was designed to avoid detection rather than truly give the people a voice. The county has more than 1 million people. How many are property owners? Could the chambers of the Board of Supervisors accommodate all property owners? Why require written protest at a public hearing? Why the urgency and not wait for a regular election? How much more will election by mail cost? Do we really need to burden people struggling to pay their mortgage with a new tax? Why is the 14M for stormwater fee and unknown millions more for sewage fee collected from Contra Costa taxpayers not enough to address the problem? Who is (mis)managing these funds?

Noticeably, District 3 Supervisor Mary Piepho has immediately started her campaign for approval of Prop 218 through her December 7, 2011 article appearing in Contra Costa Times titled "Delta At Risk And Needs Our Help Now". She has also hit the campaign trail speaking before the Antioch City Council on the urgent needs of the delta without actually mentioning the Board of Supervisors' plan to tax property owners with a "Clean Water Fee" or how much of this new money will go towards clean-up of raw sewage dumped into the delta in 2008 from her hometown and voting base of Discovery Bay.

Once imposed, parcel tax will never go away. On February 7, 2012, speak up (and write down your protest); or pay additional tax for the next ten years.

Cynthia Ruehlig
Antioch, CA
(925) 756-7628


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Dec 28, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Cynthia,

I don't know why you wrote about the Clean Water fee here instead of my blog entry about it that I posted last week. Here's the correct link if you want to move your comments there. I already explained most of what you added here.

Roz


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Dec 28, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

I forgot the link. Web Link



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