Dear Concerned Pleasanton Voter Comments on Stories, posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2008 at 8:37 am
In today's Independent, Bill Rasnick's letter to the editor got published expressing his opinion on the Oak Grove lawsuit. Bill's whole argument hinges on one main point he wrote, "To comply with his ruling each signature gatherer would have had to carry over 14 pounds of documents while trying to collect signatures."
Bill, please go read the judge's ruling. He didn't say each signature gatherer would have had to carry over 14 pounds of documents. He explicitly addressed that issue.
BTW, I'm sorry but I just don't think the City and the Council, which is elected by a MAJORITY, should be "defending the will" of a minority group (only 14% of Pleasanton voters) with a SELF-APPOINTED leader.
Posted by mj, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2008 at 11:30 am
Bill's letter is correct. If 100% of the ordinance that was voted on by the council was attached to the signatures and the judge stated that was not enough, who knows how much is enough. The developers wanted about 14 pounds of material with their suit. My guess is that if the signature collectors had the 14 pounds of documents that the developers still would have sued and said they missed another 12 pounds. The signature collectors had 100% of the ordinance that was voted on by the Council. If the city preparred the ordinance incorrectly then they do not have a legal document that was voted upon by the Council and the approval if null and void.
Posted by mj, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2008 at 11:40 am
And Stacey, you seem to have a problem with a leader in the community organizing an effort that you do not agree with. Forget the personalization of this item and stick with the issues. I have lived in Pleasanton almost 30 years and have never seen 5000 people sign a petition like this before. People wanted a chance to vote on this project. I know you have been working closely with the developers on this but I challenge you to find a petition that has collected this many signatures in less than 30 days.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2008 at 12:24 pm
I will publicly write this again (and again and again). I am in no way connected with the developers, the property owners, or even any of the City officials or staff.
Bill's letter is not correct in regards to his characterization of what the judge ruled. Anyone who reads the actual ruling will know this. If I had more time to write, I'd paste quotes from the ruling.
Additionally, I will restate that my problem is with the idea that a _minority_ faction with a _self-appointed_ leader is trying to impose its agenda upon officials who were ELECTED by a _majority_. The above poster seems to believe this to mean that my problem is with Kay Ayala, which is just not the case.
Posted by mj's sister, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2008 at 3:39 pm
Stacey, using your logic, only 32% of the voters voted for the mayor so the mayor has a minority opinion also. Actually it is quite telling that the number of people who signed this petition is about half of the number who voted for the mayor in 2006. That is a very large percentage.
Posted by frank, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2008 at 4:39 pm
The other 86 percent DID HAVE the chance to sign, and did not.
Yesterday, I posted the following in the other thread, and I will re-state it here.
"About 85 percent of the registered electorate so far has chosen the case where they do not want to vote or don't care to vote the issue in a general election. With all of the publicity as well as the extensive signature gathering efforts you would think that the number of valid signatures would have been considerably higher if the above statement in this paragraph is not largely true. The number would need to be 50+ percent to represent a majority of registered voters, not 15 (or 14) percent.
To take 4200 signatures and expand that to saying a majority wants to vote on the issue is clearly unjustified.
85 percent is not just a majority but is far larger than a super-majority (66 percent).
The position that 4200 signers actually represent is the taking of an ordnance, which was passed by the elected representatives of the majority and vetted over four years through public processes, and subjecting it to a forced vote on the general electorate in order to test their speculation that it is a bad ordnance."
Posted by mj's sister, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2008 at 8:25 pm
There are around 36,000 registered voters in Pleasanton (I think this is what you are using to calculate your 14% who signed it). If you go to the smartvoter.org website, you will see that the mayor received 11,671 votes. If my math is correct, that is 32% of the registered voters who voted for the current mayor. You need to compare apples to apples. If you are saying that 14% of the registered voters signed the referendum then you also have to say that 32% of the registered voters voted for Hosterman. You can't have it both ways.
Nobody is saying that a majority of the registered voters signed the referendum. I am arguing that if you say that only 14% of the people signed the referendum then using the same logic only 32% voted for Hosterman.
I wonder how many percent of the voters signed the initiative to put the Save the Pleasanton Ridge many years ago on the ballot. I believe that Pico was one of the "self-appointed" leaders of that group and based on your logic, since it probably only had 14%, or less, of the registered voters signing it that it should have been ignored.
What totally amazes me are the people so afraid of this issue going on the ballot. Those supporting this plan have absolutely no faith that the community will support it. Otherwise you would have said, "Bring it on!". If the developer did not bring this to court, it would have been voted on in two months from now.
If you can not win on information, I guess you have to win with lawyers. Speaking of that, has anybody heard if the mayor has passed the bar exam yet? She has failed it 4 or 5 times last I checked but am not sure if she finally passed it.
Posted by frank, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2008 at 9:54 pm
I agree with mj's sister that apples should be compared to apples, which SHE HAS NOT DONE, however.
The rule to qualify for a referendum is the number of signatures of registered voters that exceeds 10 percent of the number of registered voters in the city at the time of the last general election. ALL OF THESE VOTERS DID NOT VOTE IN THE LAST ELECTION.
In the 2006 election Jennifer Hostermann, who continues to be slandered in these posts, received 50.2 percent of the vote and beat her opponent who received 49.3 percent. THEREFORE, THE ORIGINAL POSTER IS CORRECT IN SAYING COUNCIL AND MAYOR are elected by MAJORITY vote. Not everyone votes in a general election who is registered. This is clear evidence that not every one cares about every issue and every candidate that others are so passionate about. So, those who care, made a choice and majority rule presides.
Now for the comparisons.
A general election is held on a single day and voters must voluntarily choose to vote. They must either travel to a polling location or request and fill out an absentee ballot. Voting is a proactive activity, initiated by the voter. An election is strictly conducted in a manner meeting all legal requirements and controls. These are the APPLES.
The referendum process is quite different (ORANGES, not apples). There IS NOT ANY VOTE taken. Rather, over a thirty day period encounters with registered voters are sought out by petitioners who very actively solicit their signature. Sort of like door to door salesmen. An encounter with any particular signer is mostly random. It is fair to say that most who sign did not begin their day knowing that they would sign the particular petition. This is VERY UNLIKE THE VOTER WHO VOTES IN AN ELECTION.
Therefore, since the process is rather loose, relatively unregulated, and subject to abuse, the legislature passed laws that set some conditions upon what constitutes a valid petition.
The legislature needed a number of signatures and decided upon the rule 10 percent of REGISTERED VOTERS IN THE LAST ELECTION, not 10 percent of the number who ACTUALLY VOTED. Those who actually voted, as described above, are special people because they came to vote, unlike petition signers whereby they were mostly solicited to vote by people who came to them. So, the legislature raised the bar and said 10 percent of registered voters is the requirement, a greater number, because they recognized that petition signers are not actually voting.
The other requirement that the legislature set in place was the provision that signers must be given the opportunity to have FULL INFORMATION available to them when they sign. This is where the current petitioners dropped the ball. The judge ruled they did not meet this requirement.
I can't help but using mj's words here. "If you can not win on information", don't give it all to the petition signers!
Posted by Stacey's sister, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 4, 2008 at 12:13 am
I don't see how 32% of registered voters is a majority. It's not even a majority if it were the percentage of voters who voted! Sorry mj's sister, try again. *insert ad hominem attack, shock and emotional outburst here* Oh, and frank must also be working for the developers too! *insert ad hominem attack on frank*
Posted by Amy, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Apr 4, 2008 at 7:36 am
It seems the main argument here is that some people feel that 15% of the registered voters signing is not a majority and they should not be listened to. The item you cannot quantify is how many people would have signed a petition to build the 51 homes on the top of the hill as there was no petition for the other side. Maybe I am missing something but it seems the only way to figure out what the community actually wants is to bring this to a vote of the people. That is the only way you can see how many people want the development, how many people do not, and how many people don't care to vote on it. Without an actual vote, there is no way to distinguish those who support the development from those who would not vote on it.
The arguments above saying our elected officials received a majority of the vote points right to the issue. They were allowed an election to determine their fate. This issue is not being given that opportunity.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 4, 2008 at 9:03 am
You're not missing anything. I agree with you that the only true way to determine what the community wants is to vote on it, which we probably won't be able to do now because the Oak Grove opponents presented a petition that has been ruled illegal. What I brought up is in relation to what Bill Rasnick wrote:
"Even though these city officials approved the documents that the signature gatherers carried, they have not said one word to defend the will of the Pleasanton voters."
Bill characterizes the number of signatures gathered by the petitioners as "the will of Pleasanton voters" which he then accuses the City officials of not defending. What is being argued here is that the number of signatures gathered by the petitioners cannot be considered representative of "the will of Pleasanton voters", but of a small faction. City officials have an obligation to the interests of the majority of Pleasanton voters. Therefore I believe the City should not fund Ayala's appeal.
Being an election year, Council members _do_ have to tread carefully. If they bow to pressure from a minority faction like the Oak Grove opponents (a special interest group), they compromise the majority interests they are supposed to be protecting. They may get voted out of office because of that. This is no different than Council members being accused of being influenced by "developers", another type of special interest group, which would get them voted out of office for too. Interestingly, the Oak Grove proposal, with the gift of 500 acres of parkland to the City, is completely in line with the General Plan and the Plan directive to obtain parkland from developers, a document that is supposed to represent majority interests. But Council members may end up being "damned if you do, damned if you don't" because the Oak Grove opponents are trying to get people to believe that their minority opinion is a majority "will" without the referendum going to vote.
A tangential issue here is the fact that there is a large percentage of registered voters that just don't care. If there were, people would 1) pay attention to local politics, 2) participate in local politics, and 3) go out of their way to put their signature on a petition. These voters will not consider an issue until it is put before them on a ballot and even then they may not participate in a vote.
I just don't see how Bill Rasnick can characterize his minority opinion as a majority opinion that City officials should "defend".
23,271 people put in a vote for Pleasanton mayor in the last election. Hosterman won 50.2% of that number, a simple majority.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 4, 2008 at 9:31 am
Here's some quotes from the actual ruling that shows Bill Rasnick is incorrect in his letter stating that the ruling requires petitioners to have carried over 14 pounds of paper (Bill, hope you're reading):
"While the referendum petition of Defendant Kay Ayala did not have to attach the entire Development Plan to achieve technical compliance with section 9238 (as the Development Plan was not expressly incorporated by reference), the failure to include at least some portions of the Development Plan and/or exhibits thereto frustrates the purpose of section 9238..."
"The Final Conditions of Approval, which were attached to the Petition as Exhibit B and which modify the Development Plan, are meaningless and potentially misleading without including at least some portions of the Development Plan"
Note: _did not have to attach the entire Development Plan_ and _including at least some portions_ So to comply with the ruling, petitioners didn't need EVERYTHING which amounts to over 14 pounds of paper (as claimed). They only needed ENOUGH which would probably have been under a pound.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 4, 2008 at 10:00 am
It sounds like that is what I'm saying, but I'm not (as least I think I'm not). Yes, I am saying that the opponents are a minority faction. They are, like Bill Rasnick in his letter, trying to make a claim that they represent the will of the majority based upon the number of voter signatures gathered. We won't actually know if their opinion is the same as the will of the majority since a vote at this point appears null and void, but we can make guesses based upon what we do know. Like if a majority _really_ wanted to vote on this as much as the minority faction is claiming, we should have seen a much higher number of signatures on the petition (all we know is that only 14% want to vote on it). These governmental processes do not take place in a vacuum after all. If that happened, then I would agree that the City should fight the ruling since the City is supposed to consider that which benefits the majority. Election law appears to actually be generous to groups like the Oak Grove opponents in requiring signatures from only 10% of the number of voters who voted in the last election.
Posted by Common Sense, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Apr 4, 2008 at 3:43 pm
I applaud your effort in attempting to be fair and balanced and only let the facts dictate the outcome of this discussion. I stumbled across a quote that I first laughed at, but then felt appropriate to post given the silly responses of some in response to your effort to get people to read the actually law.
"Never debate an Idiot, he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience"
Posted by Simple, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 4, 2008 at 4:42 pm
To Common Sense
People tend to resist that which is forced upon them. People tend to support that which they help to create. Idiots are persons without professional knowledge. That is eveyone but a lawyer. Ask them? Vote on it. Sell five lots. Build the trails. Develop property.
Posted by concerned, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 4, 2008 at 7:08 pm
Oponents of Oak Grove keep using the number 5200 signatures gathered as witnessed at the last City Council meeting and in this thread. While they may have gathered 5200 signatures, only 4200 were certified as good meaning registered voter, residing in Pleasanton and having only signed once. My math says that 4200 out of 36,000 registered voters represents only 11.7% of registered voters signed the petition.
I find it very misleading at this point to keep talking about 5200 voters (signatures) want to vote on Oak Grove when only 4200 signatures were certified as valid. Oponents of Oak Grove have repeatedly stated that they want to have a vote so that the facts can be discussed. While if that is true, then lets start here with the fact that only 4200 signatures were certified.
Posted by move on, a resident of the Mission Park neighborhood, on Apr 4, 2008 at 7:38 pm
I signed the petition to put it to a vote, not knowing what was good or bad about the deal. I'm one of the 4200, but I would now vote FOR Oak Grove park if we could vote on it. I think there are plenty of others like me, too, who signed because some passionate, well-intentioned people told us to do so. So don't assume that all of the 4200 valid signers are necessarily against Oak Grove is my point.
Posted by frank, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Apr 4, 2008 at 8:46 pm
After reading the subsequent posts in this thread, I restate my basic point written earlier.
The 4200 signatures represent the effort of petitioners who went out into the public over a thirty day period and used whatever means they could to seek out registered voters and induce them to sign a petition. Most of the signers woke up that morning never thinking they might sign such a petition. The result was that petitioners came up with a small minority of POTENTIAL voters.
In a general election conducted on a single day, voters actually wake up that particular morning with intent to go to a polling place and vote in private. Or, they previously have sought to obtain an absentee ballot and then considered their vote in the privacy of their house and mailed it in.
Don't somehow fall for the implication that petition signing is somehow equivalent to actually voting for something.
Posted by cathy, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2008 at 2:38 pm
When I read all the posts of all the areas on this website regarding Oak Grove, I see "stacey" and "frank" almost all the way through. Seems to be 2-3 people who are pro-Oak Grove spending a heck of a lot of spare time posting and browbeating to make it seem like this is a good deal. Talking to you people is like getting someone to change their religion...ain't gonna happen and it ain't worth it! I hope it goes to a vote and I hope the voters vote it down. Fremont hills, anyone???
Posted by Shelley, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2008 at 3:08 pm
Yeah, unfortunately Stacey and Frank don't realize that when they argue with idiots, they will be dragged down to that level and beaten with experience. Stacey and Frank, if I were you, I'd give it a rest. It's obviously a lost cause by now.
Posted by Gene, a resident of the Amador Estates neighborhood, on Apr 7, 2008 at 10:17 pm
There is a PROFOUND difference between a registered voter and one who votes. Even if registered you don't have to vote. A referendum requires 10% of those registered in the last election not those who voted.